Posted on Leave a comment

Three Hour Exams! Tips for revising for exams.

Yes it’s that time of year again! Tips For Revising For Exams

tips revising exams - Tips for revising for exams - The Stresshacker blog by Sue Smith

Many teenagers are revising at the moment and we all know how stressful that can be, so this week’s blog contains top tips for revising and staying cool, calm and confident through the revision period and beyond.

Create a timetable of study

Set short achievable tasks for your revision. It’s important to ‘chunk’ down. After all you can’t revise the whole thing in one go! So break things down into small chunks.

For example, you could revise in 20-minute chunks, set your phone (or alarm) when it goes off, change your activity for at least 5 minutes. Get up and stretch. Go and get a drink.  Play with the dog! Then go back to revising. Naturally if you’re on a roll and studying well, you can skip a break and continue on for the next 20-minute chunk.

Look at the week and decide where, when and how you are going to revise. If you’re unsure, find someone who seems to revise well. Pick their brains and find out what they do to revise, where they do it and how, then copy that formula!

On The Day of Your Exams

Plan a good routine for the day.  It might sound daft but it’s important know exactly where you’re going, it has been known for people go to the wrong place, out of sheer panic!  Not you though. If you have to travel to your place of exam, do a dummy run a week before if necessary. Give yourself as much chance as possible to feel confident.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Even planning exactly what you’re going to wear so that you’re in charge of your own temperature will give you a sense of control (Layers are good).

Aim to be early and be prepared. Have your bag and any items that you might need, ready, well ahead of the exam day.

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

tips revising exams - Tips for revising for exams - The Stresshacker blog by Sue Smith

Drink plenty of water during study periods and the exam; this has been linked to improved memory power. According to a study at the University of Wales (D.Benton, N Burgess – Appetite, 2009 – Elsevier.) ‘Recall was significantly better on the occasions when water had been consumed’.

Breathe deep then eat

Many students say they feel panicky prior to exams and suffer from anxiety. Many performers feel nervous before they perform and there’s at least one scientific study that says that nerves can help you to perform well, so maybe your anxious feelings are a good thing and they are going to help you to perform well!

Anxiety can sometimes make your tummy tense and your chest tight though and that’s not great.  So try this, sit upright and rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your tummy. I call this the ‘Vagus Hug’ as it puts you in touch with a powerful nerve that runs from the brain through the heart to the gut and it is a powerful communication channel.  Close your eyes and breathe in and count to 3 hold for a couple of seconds and as you breathe out to the count of 5 imagine your hands becoming warm and soothing to your tummy. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the tension melts. Don’t take my word for it, practice it and see for yourself.

Once you feel more relaxed ensure that you eat something prior to the exam. If you feel uptight make sure it’s something easily digestible. Protein is always good and can be easily digestible if it’s something light like an omelette or scrambled eggs. Plan what you will eat on the day – have everything ready.

Are your thoughts serving or sabotaging you?

Watch out for your thoughts they can either be helpful and positive or negative and damaging. Do NOT project negative thoughts into the future… that’s just daft since the future hasn’t happened yet!

You have a choice. What are you saying to yourself about your ability to study? What are you saying to yourself about the exam itself? Modern psychology and hypnotherapy knows that it is possible to ‘future pace’ suggestions.

An example of a good future paced suggestion is “I now revise easily, effortlessly and concentrate with focused attention whenever I revise.”  Or “On the day of the exam I feel confident and relaxed. My recall is sharp and accurate I breeze confidently through each question.” Notice the suggestion is phrased in the ‘here and now’ which is important, since the subconscious mind doesn’t have a sense of past or future, so it prefers suggestions as if they’re already happening.

Obviously if you haven’t done the study or the revision in the first place, this can’t come true but if you’ve done the work – then trust your subconscious mind to serve you. You could be amazed by the results.

Finally, listening to Stress Free With Confidence every night will definitely help you to remain calm and to feel more confident. I suggest listening for a month leading up to the exam and also through your revision period.  Listen on ear-phones each night as you drift off to sleep and let it work for you.

Good luck with your exams and remember you are still a wonderful unique person whatever your results.

Sue x

Posted on

Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Have you ever been around someone seemingly bright and knowledgeable only to notice them behave badly in a childish manner? Chances are something has stopped them growing up emotionally…

heal your inner child - adults behaving like children - Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Emotional Growth

Collectively we still fail to understand the difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. While we grow up intellectually and chronologically, we do not always grow up emotionally. We can have gaps in our development for all kinds of reasons, but it’s often due to something that happened in childhood. For example, a child — let’s call him John — has has five blissful years on the planet when his father suddenly dies. His mother, in her grief, plummets into a depression that she never really recovers from.

John is effectively orphaned at that point. With neither parent there to attend to his emotional needs. This trauma and loss will likely effect John’s ability to learn. Unless that’s picked up at school, he could remain in that ‘state’ for the rest of his life. His development stunted, much like a scratch on a record, or a rogue program that keeps replaying. Years later, John is unresponsive and unemotional toward his partner, going through the motions but never fully connecting.

Continue reading Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Posted on 3 Comments

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines

Can't Get Your Work Done? Here's How To Hit Those Deadlines - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Are you having trouble hitting deadlines? Do you procrastinate when you should be getting things done? Chances are, no amount of time management tricks will fix this until you deal with the deeper issues holding you back.

This guide will take you through all the emotional reasons why you might be sabotaging your own time-keeping, and includes some practical tips on what to do to get you back into time-management heaven.

Take the following steps and surprise yourself at how quickly you can do it.

Five Simple Steps For Fixing Your Time Management Issues.

Step One: Send Your Inner Child to Bed

Send your Inner Child to Bed - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) Esperales

First off, it’s important to recognise that you’re making a choice. You can either get this done now in the quickest most efficient way or you can time waste, procrastinate, whine (inwardly or outwardly!) or make a million different excuses.

The reality is nobody cares.

Grow up and get on with it. A bit of mental discipline never hurt anyone.

Bit harsh? Thing is we have an internalised child part. For many of us the child part doesn’t want to work, the child might be fearful of ‘getting it wrong’ so wants to avoid, play or hide. Some people find it stressful even thinking about deadlines and so prefer just to do nothing rather than deal with the worry. If you let that child part of you dictate your behaviour you’ll never hit your deadline.

You are a grown-up! It’s time to remind yourself out loud how old you are. Say to yourself, “C’mon Julie, you are a 36-year-old account director” (obviously, fill in your own name, age and occupation instead!)

Tell that part of you that wants to procrastinate, that it isn’t helpful, that you don’t want it or need it. Tell it to go away and find a different game to play and remind yourself instead of how great you’re going to feel when the task is completed.

This is the most simple step, but by far the most important one. If you do NOTHING else, take this moment to send your child off to play and make it clear to yourself that your adult is in charge. Oh, and you can tell your inner parent to stop beating you up too – that’s not going to help you get things done.

[Related: How to stop Letting Your Inner Child Rule Your Life]

HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Pick some carrots

If you’re driven by the carrot it might be good to tell your child part that when the deadline is achieved you can lie in a bath, watch that film, go shopping – or whatever the ‘reward’ is. If you’re a stick person, you’ll need to come up with something that will make it painful if you don’t succeed. Check out the article below which has tips for how you can visualise things to motivate yourself.

[Related: What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out.]

Step Two: Plan Like an Adult

Take a moment and – with your adult head on – make a plan. I would hate to remind you of that old adage that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but it is true.

First write a list of the steps involved. Do this by hand, that way you get the feel-good factor of ticking off the completed segments and the sense that you’re nearing the deadline. It will also make you feel adult and efficient.

Give yourself specific instructions, not vague to-dos. For example, if you write “start research by ringing X and ask the following questions” you’re more likely to feel inspired and get the job done than if you write something that feels too vague or over-whelming like “research book”.

Next, think about the deadline. Can you break it down into three parts or four parts? Chunking down into more manageable pieces makes  it much easier to approach.

Another way is to write out everything you have to do to hit your deadline and then 1,2,3, 4, it. The highest priorities are ones, the next are twos and so on. Stick to the plan, get on and do the ones first.

Plan your space

As part of your planning,  get everything you need in one place. You don’t need any distractions. If you have to keep getting up and down to get things, you run the risk that the child part might interfere and then you’ll wander off down the procrastination road again.

Less is more. Once you have everything put it into neat piles, on another desk or on the floor. Only have on your desk/table the things you need to complete the first stage of the assignment. Clear the clutter away, it’s distracting and you need every bit of help to stay focused. Don’t use that as an excuse to spend the next three hours re-organising your office, however. Limit your clean up time to 15 minutes. If you need a glass of water or a cup of tea get it now.

Plan your breaks

Do you know yourself? If you know that you will work better with a couple of breaks, schedule the breaks in on your list above. Other than a toilet break, stick to those breaks on your list and time them. I suggest 10 minutes is long enough to make a drink, look out of the window etc. Then it’s back to work. AVOID LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! This is likely to be the biggest temptation and the strongest hook. Be disciplined, wait until you’ve hit your deadline.

Step Three: Make Your Workspace a Happy Place

Make your Workspace Bright - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) JD Hancock

If you’re feeling lethargic place some lemon oil somewhere in the room. Apparently, the Japanese pipe this smell through the air- conditioning in their offices as it is believed to stimulate mental clarity. A recent study also suggests it enhances your mood.

Put something brightly coloured near your work station. This might just keep the creativity flowing.  I tried using a multi-coloured feather duster. I was amazed – it worked (and, let’s be honest, I would never use it to dust)! According to a study by the University of British Colombia, red in your workspace improves your attention to detail, while blue makes you more creative. (Further reading: Color in Office Environments [pdf]).

Be nice

If you’re still feeling uninspired and uncreative step back and observe your thoughts for a moment. Are they helpful and supportive or negative and sabotaging? The most important things we ever hear are the things we say to ourselves. If you’re feeding yourself messages like, “I should never have taken this on, I can’t do it, It’s too difficult” what kind of a reaction would you expect?  It’s far better to say to yourself  “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.

Did you know that your unconscious mind has a massive storage capacity? Many believe it contains a record of every bit of information you have ever picked up from the moment of your birth. It’s where a hidden cache of information, memories, skills and talents reside. Use it. Ask your unconscious mind good quality questions in order to get good quality responses. So instead of , “I wish I’d never taken on this assignment, I’ll never do it in time,” say to yourself, “how can I get this assignment finished in record time?” You will be amazed and impressed with the solutions that begin to filter through.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

The interesting thing is that whatever we believe becomes our reality. I’m going to say that again because it is so important.

Whatever we believe becomes our reality.

Successful people don’t wonder whether they will meet their deadlines, they know they will. Do you know why? Because they don’t entertain the idea of failure, it doesn’t enter their world. Successful people believe they will succeed.

To meet your deadline have the absolute total conviction that you can and will do it. When you have strong positive beliefs they strengthen your determination which then fosters your will power.  Your will power supports a good sense of self and so your confidence grows.  It’s an analeptic circle: in time you develop strong faith and a pride in yourself because you know you can achieve what you set out to achieve.

Step Four: Be Disciplined

Work steadily and allow yourself to get in the flow. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel as you begin to reach your deadlines more quickly.

Modern psychology, NLP, attributes the smooth running of successful businesses to the placement of good systems. Once you have a good system in place it runs on its own with very little need for maintenance. Getting up, going to the toilet, having a shower, cleaning your teeth, in that order, constitutes a system. After a while you haven’t got to think about it, that’s just the way you do it.  It works!

In exactly the same way, once you have your way of hitting your deadlines in place, you won’t have to think about it. It becomes automatic. Having your systems in place leaves space for the creativity often required for the work and time for having more fun.

Step Five: Leave a Buffer

Leave Yourself Extra Time
(c) Rofi

Leave yourself a little longer than you think you will need, especially the first time you set up this system.

At this point you are training yourself. Aim to get more done in less time. Set yourself chunks of time throughout the assignment and work conscientiously. Set the alarm on your phone and work consistently until the time you’ve allocated yourself is up. Then take your break.

Imagine you are the Managing Director of your company.

You are setting a good example to your other employees. Remind yourself periodically of Step 1 – you are not a child! Get on with it!

Part of developing this self-discipline is to get hold of your brain and gain mastery of it. The nature of the mind is unruly. It wants to be constantly on the move darting into the future – “what shall I get for dinner?”, “I wonder what John’s doing” – or flipping back into the past – “I can’t believe he said that”, “I wish I was still sitting in the Alps looking at the blue sky”.

Stop it!

Don’t go there; it’s lazy unstructured thinking and not the thinking we need for hitting those deadlines! Get in the now. Be present. Think only about the job in hand. Focus on what it is you want to achieve with this project/deadline.

This is a massive step to maturity, placing your attention on what you want. When you realise that you can concentrate your self–confidence takes another flying leap.

Enjoy it!

And do you know what? Look forward to it! Hopefully you are working your dharma: living the life you have chosen or at the very least working in a field that you want to be in. If not, you need to put some time aside and work out what you do want to do. Life’s too short to spend most of it in an occupation that you don’t like or enjoy.  When you are working more from your heart and you have a passion for what you’re doing, it really should be as effortless being.

Recommended Reading:

Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life. A more detailed explanation of the Parent/Child/Adult relationship.

What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out. A simple visual exercise that will help motivate you to hit your deadlines.

Main Image: Myrrh Ahn

Posted on 1 Comment

Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life

Do you avoid doing jobs because the thought of it stresses you out? Do you eat too many bars of chocolate when you promised to eat healthily? Are you late for things simply because you didn’t leave on time? Chances are you’re letting your inner child take control of your life…

I know, I know, you start out with really good intentions at the begining of the week. You’re going to eat sensible, healthy foods. And yet by Tuesday you’re on your second take-away.

It sounds like your inner child has taken over and is running the show!

Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

What Happens When You Let Your Inner Child Rule

That inner whining often goes something like this: “it’s not fair, I’m tired, I don’t want to work, I can’t be bothered to go shopping, I need a treat now, I deserve it!” And giving in to it means that you – the adult – are no longer in charge. Let’s face it if you were, you might be able to have a more grown-up conversation with yourself!

Your inner adult might say something like: “I know you feel like you deserve a treat, but if you do eat those crisps or drink that extra glass of wine, your workout at the gym will feel even harder and ultimately the dress you want to look stunning in next weekend will feel tight and uncomfortable. You’re just hungry let’s get something yummy and healthy to eat right now and if you still want crisps after you can have them!”

Continue reading Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life