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3 Simple Ways To Beat The Blues

January is renown for being the worse month for depression and there are many reasons for it. With the build-up to Christmas and the hype over, the extra lights in these dark months taken down, it feels gloomy and cold. Some people may have got into debt, some are dealing with redundancy, whilst others wrestle with existing mental health conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or clinical depression.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to detect that you’re spiralling into a downer, that’s great  awareness and hopefully you already have some strategies that can help to pull you out of depression. Because this time of year can be particularly tough, challenge yourself to do something different to change your state.

I’ve put together three ideas to help shift negative energy.

Depression - Beat The Blues by Sue Smith The Stresshacker


Calm your mind with classical music, even if it’s not your usual genre (e.g. my usual choice is jazz) take a chance, open your mind and listen to a nice classical piece. Ask a friend for a recommendation or visit Classic FM until you find something that  resonates most with you.

Depression - Beat The Blues by Sue Smith The Stresshacker
Make Music & Change Your State

Apparently baroque is the best music to have playing in the background to help concentrate if you’re studying. So the next time you’re getting ready for work, or doing some mundane chores treat yourself to something calming and different.

On the other hand if you feel really heavy, stuck and lethargic put on something with a strong loud beat, such as We Will Rock You by Queen or the 1812 Overture to help you get moving. Put on your earphones and go for a stomping power walk whilst listening to some heavy rock. Whatever your choice of music make sure it’s one that will positively change your (emotional) state.  Find a song you can sing along out loud to, it’s great for getting your breathing going (we don’t breathe very well when depression kicks in) … think Whitney Houston’s long held notes in I Will Aways Love You. 


I downloaded the Gayatri Mantra (Click to view video about it) which I found incredibly peaceful. I noticed that after I’d listened to it for a while it, it continued playing in the background of my mind. It gets rid of some of the negative head mush and I’m left with a peaceful mind for quite a while. Traditionally it should be chanted 108 times. I turn to it now whenever I need to de-clutter my mind and it works a treat. My favourite version is by Deva Premal.


In our age of abundant technology many of us feel spaced out and insulated from the earth. Walking around in rubber soled trainers and padded foot wear means we miss some of the finer signals from the earth and this can contribute to feeling even more disconnected and separate.

Depression - Beat The Blues by Sue Smith The Stresshacker
Get Grounded.

Connect to the earth; she’s warm and nurturing! Don’t take my word for it, walk barefoot on some grass and see how long it is before your feet feel the warmth of Gaia. The energy that comes up from the earth through the feet stimulates hundreds of nerves in the legs and brings with it a sense of connection which you may feel as a tingling or pulsing sensation.

When you consider that no matter where we are in the world we are held by gravity to mother earth it seems daft not to spend a little time tuning in to it.

As always, I’m interested in what shakes you out of your depression so share it with me … it could helps someone else.

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


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How X Rated Are Your Thoughts?

You know that saying “You are what you eat”  it’s the same for your mind, you get out of it what you put into it.

Along with every other thought that you process daily, your early programming also filters to the surface of the mind from time to time and some might say there’s not a lot that can be done about that.  Not me though, I know it’s possible to swamp early negative messages with positive programming. That’s what hypnotherapy has practiced for years and science now calls neuroplasticity!

Don't watch things you wouldn't want a child to see.
Don’t watch things you wouldn’t want a child to see.

If you doubt that the mind is adversely affected by what you watch, ask yourself if you would allow a child to watch it if the answer is no, why do that to yourself?

Same goes for your reading material. If you would like a quieter mind and a deeper sense of peace in your life, be discerning about what you put into your mind. Your senses are there as filters. The more rubbish you watch the more desensitised you become to it!

Continue reading How X Rated Are Your Thoughts?

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Is It Time To Wake Up And Smell The Coffee?

Build It And They Will Come!

From time to time I talk about Transactional Analysis, the psychotherapy model that suggests that we have three ‘parts’ running in the back of the mind, that of the parent, adult and child.

For the purpose of this blog and to keep it brief, let’s assume that the programming of the Parent Part and the Child Part is from our past conditioning and as a result, set in stone. This would mean that the only part available for us to grow and develop is the Adult Part.

Because the subconscious mind believes whatever we tell it, we can program the Adult Part of the mind with positive thoughts and ideas.

If we think of the adult part as a clean slate for example, with no past programming, we can set realistic and achievable goals out into the future in order to have, be, or achieve the things we want in life.

If you don’t have a goal, how can you get there?

If we sent 22 footballers out into a field without the goal posts, there would be no game!

When coaching clients, I help them to explore how they would like to see themselves in the future.IMG_6806

Play around with this idea now. How would you like to see yourself in five years time? What will you be doing? How will you be living? What work are you doing? What sort of holidays are you having? What sort of relationships are you enjoying?

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

The kind of life you would like to lead and the future you would like to have is unlikely to happen on its own, it wont just magically appear. Let me ask you a question. Do you really think that someone else will come along and read your mind, somehow know what you want and need and then provide it? Nope. No one can know what you want and need more than you!


As an adult, you’re in charge of your life and it’s up to you to make it happen.

Try this exercise; pick one area from the following list:

My working life/career/business.

My finances.

My health and fitness.

My relationships.

My personal goals, this can include travel, courses, and education.

My community/what do I give of myself to others e.g. time money support expertise.

Now ask yourself these questions: If I don’t have to worry about anyone else or what they think, if I don’t have to worry about money or paying bills, what would I be doing? (in the area that you picked from the list).

Quickly write down the things that come to mind.

Build on this idea a bit more by asking more questions like what would it look like, it sound like, how would it feel, what images come to mind?

Does it make you feel light hearted and excited when you imagine that future you?

First of all get to work by dreaming it. I’m going to pick this up again in my blog next week, so be sure to read it to know what to do next.


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Years ago I did some additional NLP training with Dr Richard Bandler one of the two originators of Neuron-Linguistic-Programming or as I like to think of it Positive Psychology.

Among other things NLP looks at ‘Modelling on Excellence’ so when we find something that we want to do well, or to have, the aim is to “model on’ or copy the behaviour or steps that allowed others to achieve that outcome, with the expectation that we will achieve similar results.

So what’s this got to do with my headline?

Finding out what naturally happy people do to feel happy helps others to model on that behaviour

smiling-kids-facesPeople who are happier in life tend to be self-nurturing, kind and loving to themselves. They have learned to live with and accept their limitations, which doesn’t mean they don’t strive for things or have goals, more that they have reached a place of self-acceptance.

Happier people have also learned how to quieten the negative chatter in their minds.

How often are you aware of that nagging voice in the background of your awareness? That demanding, negative part that criticises what you’re doing or how you’re doing it?

People give this part many names from the devil, the ego, to the parent part. However you choose to label your ‘gremlin’ is your business. But do you know how to stop it from droning on and eroding your efforts to feel okay about yourself?file000727125552

There are loads of clever therapeutic interventions for quietening this unhelpful inner voice, but for a quick fix, try Bandler’s advice who told us in training “Tell it to Shut the F**! Up! I did! It did! It does work!

Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.

I’ll be honest and say I prefer the words ‘That’s enough! Be Quiet Now” Which I find works just as well. Choose your own wording, but next time you’re having a bad day and your parent part or inner critic is giving you a rough ride, you might want to try this until you close it down.

As you become aware of the negative chatter, mentally and silently shout Shut The F**! Up several times. Follow this up with several days of ‘reprogramming’ by listening to something like Super Charge Your Confidence, my hypnosis program that helps build self-esteem and notice just how quickly your adult part bounces back into control.

Enjoy and let me know how you get on.


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Can You Do Ten Things At Once? Multi-Task My Arse!

Women have had the dubious title of multi-tasking dumped on them for years but at what cost?

Years ago, before I trained my mind to be more linear I used to ‘multitask’. I would happily start about 10 jobs and then surface sometime later to find myself in a state of organised chaos. Usually I would pull it all together and be reasonably satisfied with the outcome but it was always with an uncomfortable sense of having somehow failed.

After many years of digesting authors like Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey of The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People fame (there weren’t that many female role models of that type in those days). I felt very pleased with myself as I focussed exclusively on the job in hand. Taking Brian Tracy’s advice, I would clear my desk of everything except the job I was working on and focus on it exclusively until it was completed.

I took a certain amount of pleasure smugly ticking off one task after another and felt very pleased with the new-found order and regulation in my life. I also enjoyed the feeling that I was somehow being more grown-up, as I applied myself diligently to my work and projects. I was finally focussed!

Nowadays the battle isn’t so much with my old patterns, more with the demands of modern technology. There I am working on a project when the ping of a message on my phone or an alert of a new email threatens to distract my attention.

Apparently every time we follow up on these distractions we weaken our own neurology. According to Dr. Earl Miller, Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology we simply cannot multi-task well. He says we are single-minded and have limited capacity for simultaneous thought.

I also wonder, are we collectively becoming hard wired to check emails, texts, Facebook and twitter? And as such are we losing the capacity to concentrate? I’d say so. I wonder what the tipping point is

Focus, to get back the locus of control.

What can we do to stop ourselves being pulled into the magnetic, collective force that has us checking our phones constantly? We could practise yoga and meditation to help develop concentration but I’m thinking about a much simpler approach to strengthening our neural pathways. Exercise choice! We have the right and the know-how to turn off push notifications, alerts, ringers and vibrations. We can even put our phones and laptops out of sight and earshot!

The powerful image of the mobile phone is imprinted into the psyche;IMG_2459

and for many holds important information such as diary, address book, notes, photos and banking. But don’t let it dominate! Assert your power and control, choose when you will check mails and texts,  strengthen your neural pathways by training yourself to stick to these windows of time.

Mastered that? Great now turn off the rubbish messages in your mind that tell you, you need to check Snap Chat, Instagram or Twitter for the tenth time in an hour! Or is that another blog!



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Breathe And Relax, Vagus Is Back In Town!

This week I had the pleasure of working with some of the best therapists in the field of holistic care for people living with cancer. From GP’s, nurses, accupuncturists and counsellors through to dance therapists and volunteers, this collective of multi-disciplined experts work tirelessly at  Penny Brohn Cancer Care in what’s become known as The Bristol Approach Programme.

Their unique approach incorporates physical, emotional and spiritual support alongside mainstream medicine. Using complimentary therapies and self-help techniques they support individuals and their carers, ALL OF WHICH IS ENABLED BY DONATION! Yes, I know I’m shouting, but I think you’ll agree this is a message worth spreading. Please take a moment to check out their website from the link above and help get involved if you feel so inclined.

At the centre, facilitator and Shiatsu practitioner Markus reminded me of the power of a simple breathing technique, which I’d like to share with you now.

As you continue to read this, take a slow deep inhalation through your nose and as you gradually exhale  through the mouth, toward the end of the breath gently sigh the word Haaaa…. and again, breathe in slowly through your nose, pause  before the exhalation and as if  with a satisfied sigh, Haaaaa the breath out slowly.   Go on take one more breath.file0002115718863

Treat yourself to this little gem several times an hour and take a moment to feel the ebb and flow of your breath and notice how you feel. Relaxed and chilled I’ll bet.

Following on from Adrian’s blog last week (thanks Adrian) in which he introduced us to the vagus nerve, it might interest you to know that the vagus nerve is also involved in the above breathing technique.

Imagine this nerve like a meandering river that winds and wanders throughout the body from the brainstem to the abdomen, it gently touches body parts on it’s journey, the tongue, vocal chords and major organs like the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines and also glands that produce anti-stress enzymes and hormones. As it touches these organs it subtly influences such things as digestion, metabolism and the relaxation response.DSC_1565

When we make time to take a slow deep breath through the nose and gently exhale though the mouth Haaaa we encourage the relaxation response and just for a short time everything feels right in the world, as we send powerful messages of relaxation throughout the mind and body.

When we practice this type of conscious breathing it has the effect of keeping us present, allowing us space to step back from the ‘daily dramas’ of life.  We can temporarily quell anxiety and remind ourselves that a reservoir of peace is always just a breath away.

Please feel free to add your comments below and let us  know your experiences of taking your fair share of life force and energy in this way!



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Take a walk on the wild side.

In last week’s post I talked about the shadow side of the personality, the place where we store all the aspects of ourselves that we don’t like or that we think might not be approved of. The shadow could be likened to a dark basement that has a ton of ‘stuff’ stored in it. Maybe hidden away right at the back are things that have gone untouched for years, by this I mean parts of ourselves that we’ve banished.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves”

This insightful statement by Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung, I’ve certainly found to be true.  If we can take the time to explore the ‘mirror’ and investigate what it is that has pushed our buttons, we are likely to uncover a part of ourselves that we previously pushed into the darkness. By understanding and befriending these parts, we reclaim more of ourselves which leads to more self-acceptance and self-love.mgf3

It’s said that 10% of the mind is the conscious, logical, rational part (the short term memory) and the other 90% the shadow side (the long term memory).  If this is true there’s a lot of self-examination to do in order to find more inner peace and a deeper meaning to life.

On her way to a session with me, Hayley was really irritated by someone’s music playing from their earphones whilst on the train.  She ranted  about their lack of consideration, ignorance and stupidity.  Although I agreed in principle, it did seem that her anger was disproportionate to the incident. When I asked Hayley why she didn’t ask the person to turn their volume down a little and explain she was unable to read her kindle because of the intrusion. She didn’t know what stopped her from making that reasonable request and being more assertive.

When exploring her feelings of anger, Hayley instantly connected with the memory of a teenage part of her who was listening to music in her bedroom one evening, when suddenly her mother burst angrily into her room shouting at her to turn down her loud music. She told me her mother continued to remonstrate her for her thoughtlessness and lack of consideration for the other members of her household.

Triggered by the loud music on the train, the teenage part of Hayley felt angry, indignant and jealous that her fellow commuter could play his music without a concern while she had always felt inhibited and unable to listen to her music in a public area and even at home, she always had the volume turned really low.

Hayley was able to see her ‘projection’ onto the music playing passenger and some sessions later mentioned in passing that she no longer seemed bothered by other people’s music on the train.

She had reclaimed a small part of herself and gained some mastery over her emotional self.

Stress Hack 

So the next time someone ‘pushes your buttons’ try this exercise.

Close your eyes and go straight to that feeling and ask yourself “How old is the part of me that feels this way.” Go with your first answer. Ask the same kind of questions that you might of a friend who is asking for your support, such as, “why do you think you feel like that” Or “where are you and what’s happening the first time you feel like this. Use your common sense to have a chat with that part. You can ask, what this part wants or needs in order to feel better and then run an imaginary rescue/healing scenario to attend to the needs of that part.

When we shine the torchlight of self-enquiry into that dark basement and it settles on an aspect that we chose to bring out into the light. There’s a shift, an instant enlightenment and as a result a small part of the whole, feels better.

Want to be more assertive? Listen regularly to Assertive Empowerment Now. Also check out the Guide To Being Human and enjoy!






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The Power of the Pen – Why Getting Away from Your Computer Can Have Surprising Consequences

Ways to remember
Those of you that take my online courses will know that I’m a bit of a dinosaur, insisting that you write everything longhand in your journals.


Because you are far more likely to be able to remember and recall that information. It has been a long-held belief of mine from my own personal development work, that writing longhand embeds the learning more fully into the brain.

My thinking is, that the way you make sense of information is personal and specific to you, therefore your notes are written in such a way that is totally unique to your learning style.

As a result you are far more likely to remember them.

Continue reading The Power of the Pen – Why Getting Away from Your Computer Can Have Surprising Consequences

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How to Lose Your Baggage and Lighten Up: Thought Hack

Lose baggage and lighten up

What lurks in the shadows? All that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later – or perhaps never at all…

Back in the early 90s when I first started my practice the subconscious mind or the unconscious mind as it was often called, was also known as the dark side or the shadow.

What lurks in the shadows? Among many things the shadow houses our memories, perceptions, unresolved issues, and parts of ourselves that we are not too comfortable with.

It’s all that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later, or perhaps never at all.

Continue reading How to Lose Your Baggage and Lighten Up: Thought Hack

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Are You A Space Cadet? Why It’s Time To Wake Up!

Zoning Out - Are You A Space Cadet? Why It's Time To Wake Up! - The Stresshacker Sue Smith

Have you ever missed your train, your stop, your appointment? Do you find time passes and you don’t know where it went? Are you spacing out?

Where and when did you learn to do that?

By the sheer nature of the fact that as children we spend a lot of time being told what to do – and when and how – we have internalised that ‘parent’ part that even today may nag, criticise or even bully us to do certain things.  But it also may be that as a child you were left to your own devices for hours on end with very few boundaries or guidelines. In that case, your parent part might be vacant or spaced out with little input.

To know and understand your parent part you will need to spend some time remembering analysing and recalling your early messages. I explore this in more depth in my book, I Just Want To be Happy.

Zoning out can be a way of coping

Your inner child part is very much determined by your parent part. For example, if you were nagged, told off a lot or – worse – bullied or abused, how did you deal with that? One way that children ‘cope’ is to dissociate, disappear, take off and ‘space out’. I remember doing this as a child in a maths lesson, I was bored and disinterested and spent most of my time in the clouds floating about. Needless to say this in turn got me into more trouble!

So what is spacing out? Clients have often described it as that lovely timeless feeling: you’re there but not there. You have that sensation of drifting in thoughts, like bubbles, smoke, or like feathers or leaves floating away.

But now it’s time to zone back in

Now this is all very nice and perhaps a great way for us to cope as children, but is it useful as an adult? Probably not. When yet another day has passed and you haven’t delivered the goods, met the deadline, painted the bedroom. When you’ve missed the stop for the fourth time this week, or been late to pick the kids up. Well, it’s just not serving you any longer is it.

It’s a bit like an out-of-date program left running on a computer: it’s just taking up unnecessary space that could be used for something better.

So how do you stop spacing out?

Grounding. Grounding. Grounding. Stop taking off and get back into your body. Feel the sensation of your feet in your shoes. If possible be barefooted so you can really “earth”. Instead of getting out of your head, get into your body. You won’t become enlightened if you’re not embodied!

Then start the reprogramming.

The inner dialogue could go something like this, “I am X years old. I can do this!” Be conscious and awake. It will help if you address your inner child directly, giving them some attention by saying something simple like, “I’m just off to a meeting and I don’t need you to come along. Why don’t you stay at home playing and I’ll go off and do the grown up things and see you later.”

It may sound twee (and a bit odd!), but don’t take my word for it – try it yourself. I know it works! You can also address the inner parent by saying to that part, “You know what? Thank you for all the nagging, but STOP IT NOW! I’m X years old and adult and I don’t need your incessant rules. I can do this, so GO AWAY!”

Richard Bandler, originator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) would say tell that part to “Shut the f*@$ up!”. And it works – that nagging, parental part of you or that childish part of you will quieten down for a while.

We have to expose these parts and make this conscious. You’ll have plenty of time to practise since these parts pipe up time after time.

So, the next time you don’t want to miss your connection on the train, or you need to leave on time, get yourself grounded and make sure your inner Adult is in charge.

Please let me know how any of these activities help you. Comment below.

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