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Ways to Travel Stress and Anxiety Free

Health & Wellbeing

My top travel tips to stay stress and anxiety free when travelling.

It has literally changed my life. This is what happened…

I seemed to get a cold every time I went on holiday! This had been the pattern for over ten years. It  spoilt my trips and left me feeling miserable. I wanted to travel anxiety free.

Whilst swimming  in Thailand a couple of years ago and having a chat with myself, the way you do.  I was bemoaning the fact that I had yet another cold.  I’m healthy (other than a mild lung infection) and found it puzzling.

“Not Another cold! Why?”I said.

I heard a voice inside  reply ” It isn’t a cold.  Your airways  are inflamed from the air-con on the plane”  Nothing more, just that!  It was a real eureka moment as I recognised this truth.

I totally empowered myself with the following tips…

NLP:

First I future-paced my self with an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) suggestion. “By the time I get out of the sea all inflammation has left my lungs.”

I swam a bit longer then got out.  It was about an hour later that I realised that the ‘cold’ had gone, completely!  I’d had it for five days yet  it had totally disappeared! Not one more sniffle for the entire holiday.

Masks:

Secondly I went to a supermarket and bought some masks. Next I bought a lightweight scarf to wrap over my mouth and nose.

Health & Wellbeing
Fewer colds and infections now.

Most importantly  I wear it for the entire flight whenever I travel now. Only removing it to eat or drink. I’m effectively recycling my own warm breath and this appears to have worked.

I had started to feel wary and anxious about holidays because of the cold scenario.

But now I can relax in the confident knowledge that I’ll be okay.

I’ve had three long haul and eight European flights since then and not one cold or sniffle!

I tell my fellow passenger that I have nothing contagious just a mild lung condition that is irritated by air-con. I’ve only had one person move and that gave me more room – result!

In conclusion this totally works for me and could help you too. If you have experienced similar problems or have asthma this could be the perfect solution.

Wear a snood, scarf or gloves:

I’m now trend-setting with an array of snoods!

Especially on cold damp days or on public transport. I stay healthy and therefore anxiety free in the knowledge that I have fewer colds and infections.

Setting a trend
Setting a trend

Oh and another tip – wear gloves where possible in public places. It can cut down on germs.

Remember that  Stress Free With Confidence is a reassuring programme to listen to if you have any fears around travel. Grab your  CD or download at the shop here at www.thestresshacker.com

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6 Survival Tips For A Stress Free Christmas

How to cope with Christmas

Surviving Christmas Stress:

I love that quote …“Think you’re enlightened? Spend a week with your family!”

For many, family is the messiest part of life. People just won’t do what we want them to do will theyHow to cope with Christmas!

Christmas holidays often mean spending prolonged periods of time with people who can push your emotional buttons, so what’s your plan to survive Christmas and the strong opinions or personalities that can arise at this time?  Check out my tips below.

1. Meditation

The Christmas holidays are a perfect time to develop a regular mediation habit. Start with  5 minutes, building to 7 and then 10 minutes a day by week two.  Along with enormous health benefits, at this time of year meditation can offer you the perfect excuse to get away and give yourself some much needed time and space. Check out my other blogs or click here for simple meditation techniques.

2. Breathe To Alleviate Boredom

I remember someone telling me of their dread of the office party and the boring conversations they had to endure each year. If you get stuck with the office bore try practising a simple breathing technique whilst they’re talking to you. Keep looking at the person and subtly bring your awareness to your nostrils, silently count One on your next inbreath, two before you breathe out, three as you exhale and four before you breathe in again. When you’ve counted 5 ‘whole’ breaths in this way make your excuses ” well, it’s been great catching up and I want to talk to …. now, enjoy the rest of the party” and run!

3. Develop compassion.

If step 2 seems a bit harsh, maybe you can develop the art of active listening? You’re with the office bore again (except you no longer refer to them in such a way) imagine you can drop down into a very peaceful space within and begin listening with an open heart, i.e. with absolutely no expectations, no desire to escape and without a need to fix them, question them or judge anything they say. Good luck with that!

4. Boundaries. Where are yours?

What is your tolerance level for a particular person? So for example you don’t get along with your sister can you sit open-heartedly listening to her for 5 minutes or 10? What and where is your limit? It’s important to know yourself in this respect. Think about these interactions ahead of time.  Once you’ve reached your tolerance level with that particular person have  an “I need to get up and get some water” statement handy, so that you can change your position and your state. Plan ahead, is it possible to arrange to sit next to someone you do enjoy talking to?

5. Booze. Is it time to monitor your intake?

At what point might you say something you could regret? If two drinks leave you merry and sweet but four make you a bit mouthy…  perhaps you need a plan. Think ahead. How do you want to feel when you wake up after you’ve been out partying? When you look back over the previous evening’s events do you want to be happy with your ruminations or will you be cringing because of something you said or did?  Will that extra drink make the difference?  Plan ahead and decide when enough is enough. Before you go out think about an alternative to alcohol get a really clear picture of it in your mind, for example imagine a nice glass of sparkling tonic water with a shot of lime cordial and a twist of lemon, or a pot of freshly brewed coffee.

6. Kindness

Christmas is an especially good time to be thoughtful, kind and generous to others but I hear so often of people (usually women) who have run themselves ragged trying to make the perfect Christmas for others only to end up ‘coming down with something’. So be kind to yourself first, it’s then easier to give authentically to others.  Make time for you and as you give yourself a bit of space  ask yourself “what do I want, what do I need.” When your cup is full there’s a tendency to only want for the good of others and if you’re okay,  you’re in a better position to take care of others.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs, visit the site and purchase products I really value your feedback.

Wishing my family, friends, clients, yoga students and readers a great Christmas and all you would wish for yourself throughout 2019.

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

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STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift

Help identify and deal with stress

Reactions to stress are stored in the mind and body, they shape our perceptions and view of the world.

STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift
Stressed and tense

Constant repetition of the fight, flight and collapse response takes its toll on the immune system and leaves us susceptible to illness, disease.  Similarly mental responses to stress include anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and phobias.

Therefore self-care on more than just one level is vital to our health.

More importantly, finding ways of controlling our reactions to stress mentally and physically, rather than allowing it to control us, is essential to being a well being.

I should know I’ve been a stress management expert for many years and my clients know that even one small change makes a huge difference to the quality of life and can help you cope better.

50 Signs of Stress:

…And also the solutions to combat stress and free gifts to help you deal with it.

Psychological signs:

Feeling angry

Anxious, apprehensive, frightened, fearful

Excessive feelings of shame or embarrassment

Constant Cynicism

Depressed or generally low

Guilty

Helpless, out of control

Experiencing intrusive thoughts or images

Day-dreaming more

Experiencing loss of confidence

Mood swings

Nightmares

Obsessive thoughts

Reduced self-esteem

Suicidal thoughts

Thinking the future is bleak

Unable to concentrate

Worrying more

Physical signs:

Breathlessness

Backaches

Constipation or diarrhoea

Change to menstrual cycle

Frequent colds or other infections

Feeling faint or fainting

Headaches or migraines

Indigestion

Muscle twitches

Palpitations

Rapid weight change

Skin complaints

Sweating or clammy hands

Tightness or pain in chest

Thrush or cystitis

Vague aches or pains

Increased tiredness or fatigue

Behavioural signs:

Accident-proneness

Aggressive or passive behaviour

Clenched fists or jaws

Comfort eating or loss of appetite

Compulsive or impulsive behaviour

‘Checking’ rituals

Disturbed sleep patterns

Eating/talking/walking quickly

Increased alcohol or caffeine consumption

Irritability

Poor time management

Reduced work performance

Smoking more

Withdrawal from supportive relationships

Too busy to relax

Stress management is something that has to be built into and made part of each day.

STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift
breathing

Furthermore, repetition is the mother of all skill and stress management requires practise.

You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym now and then to have a strong, toned body and it’s the same with maintaining a calm, relaxed state in the face of stressful events and  triggers.

Firstly you have to know the difference between stressed and calm. Practise a Progressive Relaxation. Do it Now!

Simply tense every muscle starting with your face, screw your eyes up, your mouth, neck, shoulders arms etc right the way throughout your entire body, tensing until it’s almost unbearable then slowly release and enjoy the feeling of gentle relaxation spreading through your body.

Secondly repeat this as often as possible so that you train and engrain the right responses to stress.

Finally, stop the stress reaction more quickly by recognising tension and stress as it’s creeping in. Consciously pay attention to that knot in your shoulder or tightness in your neck,  use it as a trigger to start the relaxation response.

Because stress increases when we forget to breathe properly humming and whistling will help you to breathe better. A whistle or hum is effectively an exhalation.

Try it now, you’ll notice that you take a bigger, slightly longer inhalation after you’ve whistled or hummed.  Increased breath means more energy and a calmer state and better equanimity of mind.

Most importantly  reprogram your mind to combat stress while you sleep. The Stress Free With Relaxation program allows your subconscious mind to absorb positive suggestions and counter daytime stress triggers.

Maximum effort required, put in earbuds as you drop off to sleep. Return On Investment = Feeling rested and refreshed with a positive state of mind and  wellbeing. Effortless!

Finally, get your free gifts in the shop at thestresshacker.com

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Anger Management

Ever wondered why you’re so quick to anger?

Losing it‘ signifies much deeper underlying issues such as loss and grief.   Anger forms part of the bereavement cycle?Anger Management The Stresshacker Sue Smith

When I discuss this with clients I’m often told “But I haven’t had a bereavement. I just flare up for no reason.”  Yet they’ll go on to identify loss. Loss of their dreams, a relationship or a part of themselves in childhood.

The emotion of anger usually covers fear and the bottom line is that fear centres around feeling unloved or unloveable.

Many a child has felt humiliation and shame at being shouted at and rejected by an angry parent however temporary.

Whilst parents are not saints and don’t come equipped with the perfect parent handbook it’s safe to say that most parents intend to do their best.

Women appear to adjust to parenthood more quickly as they navigate bodily changes and fluctuation in emotions during pregnancy.  Whereas men’s bonding often starts when the child is  older.

Both will grieve the loss of their previous lifestyle – their job, friends and colleagues. It’s natural to feel anger in these circumstance.

In Psychotherapy, Transactional Analysis is a model that  suggests that we have 3 main parts in our psyche.  The Parent, Adult and Child.

Your guide book for how to be a parent is a direct result of how you were treated by your parents. What they said and did becomes your inner map, voice and reactions.

You may blindly follow your guide book or totally reject it by doing  the opposite.  More commonly people cobble together bits of both in an effort to ‘get it right‘.

All that’s needed is a trigger. You’ve asked your child patiently for the fifth time to pick up their towel from the bathroom floor, the anger explodes and you’re shouting and screaming at them.

You don’t have to be an actual parent to follow your map either. When you get angry with yourself and judge yourself harshly? That inner critic is your parent part.

How does a child feel, who’s been bullied?  Worthless and unloveable.  Your inner child feels exactly the same after an internal battering.

How To Manage That Anger

The key is to develop a healthier adult part.

Risk being vulnerable and explore your losses. Make time and space to have more authentic honest conversations with trusted friends, partners and therapists.

It is possible to diminish anger and bear the losses. It is possible to feel in control and to like how you talk to yourself and others.

Here’s a few starting points that will help.

Develop the tools of mindfulness. Use your breath to ground you in the present and to stop you reacting like a victimised child or a volatile parent.

Work on rebuilding your self esteem so that you are more able to tolerate the emotions.

Do you want a shortcut to that? Update the software of your mind and listen to Stress Free With  Confidence, or Assertiveness Now rapidly reprogram your subconscious mind to build a stronger autonomous adult part.

Let me know your thoughts.

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Down With Depression

Down With Depression
Depression Sucks

When depression descends it‘s not easy to shake yourself out of it and for some just not possible at all, so if that’s you, you might want to stop reading now.

Many people who experience depression say that as part of it, they feel helpless and hopeless and it’s understandable as it can leave you feeling stuck and impotent. Anyone can be hit by depression at any time in life and it’s important  not to judge.

It’s also important to know that it’s not your fault and doubtless you have done and are doing the best you can. It can be very irritating if not downright annoying to have people tell you to snap out of it and I wonder if one of the reasons is that for some, depression is an inward expression of anger. To have well meaning people lay unhelpful platitudes on you, can triggers more frustration and can make the depression even more intense.

My personal experience of depression and that of working with others is that it invariably strikes people who are highly thoughtful, sensitive and usually kind and caring. They ‘feel’ deeply and can struggle with boundaries, because they are used to picking up on the emotions of other’s but aren’t used to protecting themselves from it. Like a sponge they unconsciously mop up negative energy from those around them.

Developing a supportive inner voice can help. Over time I learned to tell myself that ‘this will pass’  and for me it did and thankfully  I did not remain in a permanent state of depression.  Knowing that it would pass I was able to use this knowledge to help myself. I would sit in the same place each time – in my case my wicker meditation chair and remind myself that nothing stays the same and that it would pass. When you’re in the midst of it however you can be forgiven for thinking it wont!

Funny thing is, even some of my closest friends may be surprised to discover that I’ve wrestled with depression and the reason for this is that I’m not a lover of labels, so I’ve chosen to not say that I have had depression. My concern was that it would become ‘my’ depression and I certainly never wanted it to be mine!

Here are a couple of things that have helped me in the past and others I’ve worked with.

Down With Depression
Call a friend

Sit with a trusted friend or therapist and investigate the last 3 or 4 episodes of depression with a view to identifying what the triggers were. Aim to recall what happened the day or the night before. What did you eat or do, what time did you go to bed, what were you watching, who did you see, what activity were you participating in before the depression started? Aim to unearth the patterns that lead to the depression and make them more conscious.

When we throw light on something that has previously been unconscious i.e. in the dark, it usually has the effect of de-potenising it, taking away some of it’s power.

Don’t do this on your own, because you obviously don’t want to trigger an episode.

Once armed with a knowledge of the patterns or people that seem to trigger the depression  you can start looking at things to put in place to avoid those triggers. For example if you realize that depression can start when you lay in bed thinking about things for too long, or listening to the news, train yourself to get up within 5 minutes of waking up, or make the decision to turn off the news and choose something more positive to listen to.

You can use stick thinking i.e. “If I lay here any longer I know I’ll end up with that sinking feeling in my stomach that leads to me feeling really stuck and miserable” or carrot thinking… “If I get up now I can get on with… or meet up with so-and-so to walk her dog, or to just make a nice cup of coffee and listen to the birds singing”

Commit to becoming vigilant and aim to catch the depression as it starts, imagine you’re a spy and your brief is to watch and wait to ‘catch’ it before it takes hold so that you can interrupt the pattern it takes.

Make a decision to do something different until you notice a change no matter how subtle. Even a tiny shift can make a huge change to the way you feel.

That shift might be an arrangement that you strike up with a trusted friend to call them the minute you feel the depression starting so that they can come over to support and motivate you to do something different. This is of course by prior agreement.

Whilst we know that exercise is a great way to combat depression, it isn’t always easy or possible for everyone to join a gym however one simple step that you could take is this.

Stand with your feet hip width apart and raise your arms up slowly up into the air as you breathe in. Then slowly breathe out through your mouth like you’re blowing air out with a long sigh as you bring your arms back down. Do this at least 10 times – longer if possible. Do it several times a day on a bad day.

You are lifting your heart and lungs with this simple movement, engaging your cardio-vascular and respiratory systems which change your breath, your mental state and of course your physiology. This can be done sitting down too.

Depression isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be a feeling that emerges somewhere in the body or just outside of it.

Depression has been described by some as a heavy weight, a black hole or a dark cloud hovering over them.  Others say it starts as a sinking feeling in their stomach and some say that it’s like having someone or something sitting on them. No wonder then, that people can feel stuck or disempowered.

It can be helpful to externalize the feelings and one way to do this is by drawing or painting your feelings on paper. No rules, you don’t have to have any artistic skills, nobody else will see this – unless you choose to share it.

When you’ve finished drawing,  bin it, burn it or bury it but get rid of it. By doing so you’re making  a powerful symbolic statement – to your unconscious mind-  that you’re taking action to erase it.

Another powerful thing to do is to write, by hand, letters to people who you feel have a part in your depression whether past, present, dead or alive.  I’ve worked with many people with depression who have been bullied in the past and when they’ve done what I suggest here they have been amazed at the results. You really will feel lighter when you do this.

Write to the bullies, tell them exactly what you think of them.  Let the people who have played a part in the way that you feel, know your truth, tell them exactly how you feel. When you’ve finished the letter  bin it, burn it, or bury it but definitely get rid of it permanently, this is the most important step.   I do not advocate sending the letters – this is for you, it’s your therapy.

Your unconscious mind believes whatever is put into it, so it will believe that  you’ve sent the letters, even though you know at a conscious level you haven’t.

This might sound ridiculously simple but it really can take care of unfinished business in the back of the mind. Don’t take my word for it try it yourself to find out that this powerful exercise really does work!

Anything that you can do to empower yourself will be helpful

So the next time you’re feeling brighter write a list of the things that lift you and allow you to feel glad to be in the world. Put that list on the inside of a cupboard or on a mirror where you can see it to remind yourself to take tiny steps toward a better day.

Although I would never say  I’ll never be depressed again, I do feel fortunate to be free of depression these days. I have used all the tools and tips I write about and whilst I appreciate that they may not be for everyone, I sincerely hope they help someone.

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