Sorry I haven’t been in touch for ages…there is no excuse.
There was a bout of depression that nearly got me, but I will tell you about that later.
I have just returned from a holiday in Thailand that included bathing and feeding Elephants. Seeing the process of their “poo” being turned into paper.
Learning the secrets of Thai cooking at a cookery school in Chiang Mai. Then travelling further south to explore some of the islands and their beautiful beaches. Experiencing the healing effects of Thai massage.
Why would I now feel depressed?
I became very aware of the negative internal chatter in my mind. Part of me was imploring another part of me to stay upbeat. But I couldn’t. In fact, feelings of negativity had me sinking fast!
I was feeling depressed. Why?
Was it that my wonderful holiday was over? That I’m still grieving? Maybe I was just overwhelmed by my workload? Or perhaps it’s Brexit?
What soon became clear is that the WHY does not matter. Continually exploring the ‘whys’ only brings more negative thoughts to the surface. Changing my state became my priority and doing this quickly, my goal.
Here is what I did to fight the depression
The first and most important thing was to change the “internal chatter.”
At the risk of this sounding like a plug for one of my self-help downloads, I started to listen to Stress Free With Confidence. This is a hypnosis program I made almost thirty years ago. After just two days I noticed my thinking had changed quite dramatically and as a result, found myself smiling again.
My thoughts were brighter. When a negative thought arose it quickly switched to a positive one. The change was automatic and the good thoughts began to flow again.
More importantly was the shift in my feelings and I felt more upbeat.
This helped me to get moving.
Exercise helped me move forward and invigorated me. Walking activates the heart and lungs and changes the way you breathe. When you change the breath it will often change the way you think and feel. A couple of walks in my local park and surrounding streets really helped.
So did reaching out for support from loved ones and close friends whom I was able to share my feelings with. It’s so important, in fact essential, to reach out. Call someone. Talk about it.
Yoga always gives me the space to gain insight into my feelings and this awareness helps me to “catch” myself before I fall too far. I did a slightly longer practice each day.
Having re-booted the stress free programme in the back of my mind, I also started juicing again which boosted my energy.
I applied a great Ayurvedic treatment and gave myself a top-to-toe sesame oil massage before languishing in a bath. This felt nurturing and nourishing.
Sometimes just one small change can make a huge difference to the way you think and feel.
For example if your job requires sitting at a desk all day, get up regularly and move a round. Take the stairs rather than the lift where possible.
There, I’ve said it these are some of the charming names attributed to women experiencing menopause. Women who have reached a stage in their lives where they are no longer able to bear children. Names mainly levied on us by the patriarch of the past.
The reality of course is that Women are wise and when we realise that pretty much everything that walks the planet is born of woman, we are in fact Creators, Goddesses even.
When we consider the pain and suffering women endure to give birth to humanity, shouldn’t women be honoured, respected and revered at every stage of life?
Some stories portray the crone or hag as disagreeable, malicious, or sinister often with magical or supernatural abilities that can make her either helpful or obstructive. Well that’s pretty much true of all of us really, men and women.
And as if creating, birthing, nurturing and child rearing isn’t enough, woman have the menopause to look forward to with it’s myriad of symptoms.
There are hot flushes, dryness, sleep problems, excessive tiredness. Oh and then there’s the rapid mood swings, along with that wonderful feeling that your brain matter has been swapped for a cauldron of cotton wool!
Want to know about more symptoms? Google NHS menopause for more information.
Because so many of you have asked me to write about the menopause what I offer you here are my tips and beliefs for dealing with this phase of life.
It’s a time for cleansing on many levels and clearing out the crap!
Many women at this stage realise that they can no longer live incongruently or out of sync with themselves, it just doesn’t work anymore.
People, jobs, gatherings and even friends that were tolerated in the past have no place during the menopause.
Maybe the description of Crone as disagreeable, unpleasant and ugly arises because during the this phase, women often wont tow the party line anymore.
In menopause women are no longer prepared to bend and mould to the ideals of another or even their own earlier scripts.
Many women I’ve worked with yearn to return to themselves, to be more authentic and congruent, done with their roles and labels.
Some want peace, some want fun, or to be heard, whilst others crave adventure. It’s time to do it differently.
So let’s welcome the menopause and treat women in this stage of life with a reverence for their innate wisdom and knowledge.
We teach other’s how to treat us.
Like all things, that which we seek outside of ourselves must be found within first. What can you do today to welcome and revere yourself?
The Hot Flush
I remember the first hot flush that roared up my neck and face like an inferno. Feeling distinctly uncomfortable I got up to distract myself when someone brought me a glass of cold water. Its was a kind act of awareness, considerate and thoughtful. One that remained with me.
After that I learned to stay present with flushes, other than to reach for a glass of water. You’ll also find an ice pack or a packet of frozen peas on your pulse points pretty handy at this point.
Instead of running away from or trying to avoid this physical phenomena, I urge you to stay with it. Dive into the feeling, embrace and welcome it in, there’s a wisdom in it somewhere.
That Which You Resist Persists.
I hear you say that’s all well and good but what if I’m in a meeting or an important event? Same advice – stay with it. Everything reaches a peaks and has to subside. The more you panic or try to stem it the more fierce it can seem. If you’re fidgeting around mopping your brow and looking uncomfortable people will notice more. Imagine you’re loving that feeling of warmth.
12 Tips for coping better with Menopause
1. When you feel a flush rising, aim to stop what you’re doing and sit down. Slowly sip a glass of cold water until it passes.
2. Allow yourself time and space to yield to the feeling. You’ll notice that when you do this, that the feeling passes more quickly.
3. Try this lovely yoga breathing exercise called Sitali. This is the version I practice and it must be done sitting in a well ventilated space. Not standing on the platform of the station or in a room blasting out air-conditioning.
4. If sleep disturbances are your main issue and you keep waking up or struggle to get off to sleep, treat yourself to my hypnosis audio program Sleep Well Now or read up on the tips in my book The Art of ZZZ’s
5. Where possible allow yourself some quiet meditation time on a daily basis.
6. Gentle yoga stretching such as yin and hatha yoga are ideal for personal practice. I prefer to practice and teach fluid movements with weight bearing poses and attention to the breath.
7. Yoga lowers blood pressure, counters stress and can alleviate pain and discomfort, do a littel each day.
8. Your temperature can go up and down like a fiddler’s elbow during the menopause, so invest in a proper silk pashmina, it will keep you warm when you feel chilly and cool when you’re hot! They’re also great for mopping up the excess schvitz!
9. Keep a fan in your pocket or bag it gives you a sense of control when your body heats up.
10. The homeopathic remedy Sepia worked brilliant for me, minimising symptoms such as brain fog and tiredness.
11. I’ve practised Ayurvedic principles for many years and found Pukka Herbs’ Aloe Vera juice to be the best. It’s cooling, great for the skin and helps with problems like constipation. It also acts as a carrier taking herbs to body parts that need them.
12. I would drink a shot glass of aloe vera morning and night and take the herb Shatavari – also from Pukka, which helps to combat the dryness that can come with menopause.
There’s a notion that we’re no longer in our masculine warrior phase, out there chasing and hustling a living. It’s time to sit back into the powerful energy of the feminine and allow ourselves to receive.
The feminine energy is depicted by the moon and in the same way that it’s cool brightness can throw light across a darkened sea. This can be a time of enlightenment as we take time to ‘be’ and receive our inner wisdom.
Naturally we’re all different and these are just things that worked well for me I hope they help you. Share your tips with me on my Facebook page thestresshacker or in the comments section below.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
I’ve just shared a smashing weekend with a fabulous group of women in Yoga – that means unity for the uninitiated – at a weekend retreat in Sussex. Spending time with like-minded souls, sharing space, food and a love of yoga is positively uplifting.
Try Something New
We wandered out of our comfort zone to try out one of the oldest branches of Chinese Medicine known as Qi Gong with Sound Therapist Ruth from Dao Natural Health. Apparently Qi Gong is a medical science, it was a subtle yet powerful experience that left us feeling energized and relaxed at the same time.
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
Later we bathed in the sound of a fascinating array of instruments, from the larger gongs to the smaller Tibetan bowls and rain sticks that transported us into various states relaxation and mediation.
Added to this throughout the weekend was a delicious, balanced vegetarian diet with the odd (more sensational than odd) fruity treat thrown in.
This left us feeling satisfied and satiated on a mental, physical and spiritual plane!
Find Your Tribe
share the pleasure of taking time out to immerse yourself in the things that bring you joy.
If you suffer from anxiety or just plain old stress this is a gentle nudge to nurture yourself by spending time with people who share the same hobbies, pastimes or sports as you, so that you can return to everyday life feeling more contented and at one with yourself.
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.
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.
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.