How to overcome imposter syndrome

So what is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is when we don’t feel worthy or entitled to do something, leaving us with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of belief in ourselves.

According to Wikipedia, it is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

The root of imposter syndrome

So what is at the root of imposter syndrome? I would suggest that imposter syndrome is all about your relationship with yourself.

How you feel about yourself. How you compare yourself to others. What is your sense of identity? How do you see yourself in the world?

Important questions to ask

Do you feel that you have achieved success in your life? How do you see yourself as a person? Do you believe in yourself? If not, why not? What has happened in your past that makes you doubt yourself?

What have you gone through in life? What challenges have you overcome? How have you navigated the most difficult periods in your life? How have you dealt with adversity and struggle?

It’s all made up!

Imposter syndrome is a construct in your mind and it has no foundation whatsoever. It has manifested from a series of deep rooted negative beliefs about yourself.

Having the feeling that you don’t belong in a particular arena, or profession, or business, is just another way of saying to yourself that I am not good enough.

Value yourself!

Well the truth is you ARE good enough. Why wouldn’t you be? Look at your achievements. Look at the struggles you’ve overcome. If you were to write a list of your achievements down on paper, I bet you could come up with many.

One simple exercise you can do to help with imposter syndrome is to make a note of all the reasons why you should pursue what you want to pursue. In other words, what is your motivation? Why do you want to do what you want to do?

List your strengths!

When you’ve finished that, make a list of all the reasons why you are the right person for the job. For example, your gifts, your talents, your abilities. Your character traits. Your values. Your morals. Your principles. Why are you special?

Time is now!

You only get one life. Be who you want to be. Don’t allow the negative voices in your head to influence your journey. You are bigger than that. You are worth more than that. Learn to value yourself.

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Tips for better sleep


Today I want to give you some tips for getting better sleep. Insomnia is absolutely debilitating and soul destroying, both mentally and physically and getting good quality sleep forms the ultimate foundation for our health and general wellbeing. 

Now stick around to the end of this blog, because I’m going to give you 2 extra bonus tips, so be sure to hang on for those. 

Discipline.

One thing I do want to stress is that creating good sleep habits does require focus and discipline and the results won’t be seen overnight.

You do have to work at it, but you will thank yourself and once you do improve your sleep, you will never look back. It’s going to involve ditching old habits and being open to change your routines. 

Routine change.

Your initial reaction may be resistant to these changes, but you need to think very matter of factly about your approach to better sleep. Your current routines and habits surrounding your sleep time are not working and as a result, the quality of your sleep is suffering. 

And it’s like anything in life. If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results. If nothing changes, then nothing changes. 

Right let’s get straight into this!

Tip 1-Use your bedroom to sleep and nothing else! 

My guess is that the majority of you either read, watch tv, use your mobile phone or laptop before bed and there are three reasons why these habits have detrimental effects on your sleep. 

Firstly, all of these habits have a stimulative effect on our brains and mobile phones, laptops and tv’s serve as a double-stimulant, (especially mobile phones).

Wired.

Not only are we becoming wired because of the content we’re consuming, but the blue light emitted from our electronic devices actually interferes and disrupts our naturally built in sleep inducing hormone, otherwise known as melatonin. 

The second reason why these devices aren’t good before bed is down to the actual content we’re consuming. Watching something stimulating on tv, especially if it contains violence, or heavy drama, explosive action, this kind of content is going to make our brains wired. 

Thrillers before bed!

Even if you’re engrossed in a book, the last thing you want to do before bedtime is stimulate your brain with a tense thriller!

The third reason why you may want to re-think these habits lies in the fact that over-stimulating your brain before bed increases the chances of having nightmares or weird dreams during sleep time.

How often have you had a nightmare or weird dreams and there is a strong or subtle connection between what you’ve dreamt and what you’ve seen on tv or social media.

Quality sleep.

Think about it. If you go to sleep with a wired brain, the chances of having a calm and restful sleep are pretty low, simply because you start as you mean to go on.

In other words, if you go to sleep and your brain is buzzing, the likelihood is that you either won’t get to sleep, or you’ll have difficulty staying asleep, whereas if you go to bed feeling relaxed and calm, you are dramatically increasing the probability of achieving good quality sleep. 

There are many who feel that reading a good book before bed helps them to fall asleep and whilst this might work for some, the chances are that you’re going to get caught up in the storyline and the characters,(especially if it’s a thriller) and so once again, your brain is going to be wired, rather than winding down for bed. 

Tip number 2- Do not sleep in!

However tempting this may be and I’m sure at the time you have very valid reasons, one of the keys for having good sleep is consistent routine, in other words, go to bed at a decent hour and wake up at the same time, or thereabouts every day. 

As a general rule, most adults need between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep. Some need less, some need more, but it is more about your quality of sleep. Just lying in bed for 7 hours is not going to cut it unfortunately. 

Weekends!

Many choose to sleep in, especially on weekends and I’m afraid this only works against you, because you are disrupting your regular body clock and it is your body clock that regulates the quality of your sleep.

For instance, If you spend all week going to bed at 11 and waking up at 7 and then for two days you interfere with that routine and sleep in til 12, your body clock, (otherwise known as your circadian rhythm) becomes compromised and out of synch.

Tip 3-  Don’t dress too warmly for bed!

Getting our body temperature right is absolute priority for achieving good sleep and the biggest cause of disrupted sleep, is body temperature; ie if we become too hot or too cold during sleep time, we are most likely going to wake up. 

Numerous sleep studies have revealed that it is far better to under-dress, than over-dress for bed and the ideal scenario is to warm up naturally under the covers, than wear excess clothing to get warm. 

Similarly, when it’s hot, you might want to invest in a fan or portable air con unit to keep you cool during those warm summer nights. 

Right, now as promised, I’m going to give you those 2 extra tips on how to avoid bad sleeping habits, so here we go: 

Extra tips!
Sleepovers!

The first one and this is mainly aimed at parents and their kids, but try to minimise the number of your children’s sleepovers as much as you can. Listen we’ve all been young right, including myself, and we know that not a lot of sleep takes place during a sleepover. 

Whilst this is all very fun and exciting for your kids at the time, if it’s done repeatedly, it can really cause problems in later life, because not only have they not had sufficient sleep, but they’ll inevitably need to make up for that loss of sleep by sleeping in. Now you might think this is all harmless, but this is how the bad habits form. 

Did you know that 40-50% of young people have sleep issues and this has arisen from simply getting into bad habits?

The final tip-Jetlag

So how can jetlag possibly affect your sleep in the long term?

Well my friends, again, this is about how we create bad habits and how they can affect us permanently and jetlag is no exception.

When you return from your holiday and you feel completely jetlagged and you’re desperate to go to sleep, you must stay up as close to your regular bedtime as possible and it is just as important to wake up at your regular wake up time. For sure you’re going to have to set an alarm and  drag yourself out of bed.

Travel and sleep.

Trust me on this, I have seen so many people get into bed sleep habits, because they allowed their jetlag to totally mess up their sleep routines. Let me give you an example.

If you’re taking an overnight flight and your plane lands in the morning, chances are you’re going to feel wiped out and struggle to keep your eyes open.

You might find that you return home at sometime in the morning and then you have to somehow keep awake until your regular bedtime, let’s say for argument’s sake that’s 11 pm.

Body clock.

Because it is particularly challenging to last for the whole day without falling asleep, by the time your regular bedtime comes, your body clock is completely out of sync and then it becomes a struggle to sleep at your regular bedtime.

Before you know it,  you start developing all sorts of sleep problems, such as waking up several times in the night, falling asleep in the daytime and failing to get off to sleep at your regular bedtime.

Stay up!

The majority of the time, if you can just stay up until your regular bedtime, without falling asleep in the day, (drink some extra coffee if you have to), wake up at your regular wake up time, you should get back to a normal sleep routine pretty soon. 

I am a private counsellor and coach, specialising in bereavement, depression and anxiety. Please contact me for a free 15 minute video/telephone call.

Check out my other blogs on Depression and anxiety and How to relieve stress and anger

How to relieve stress and anger!

Do you ever think to yourself, what do we do with all these thoughts and emotions we carry around? How do we deal with the frustrations, the anger, the resentments, the sadness? 

Negative emotions

What about feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, lack of self belief or motivation. What about depression, anxiety, stress and anger? What tools can we have at our disposal?

Pressure cooker waiting to explode!

The fact is, that unless we have a release for these thoughts and feelings, we will pay the price at some point and either break down, or explode like a volcano!

When someone cuts you up on the roads, or is disrespectful to you, do you flip? Or do you feel like flipping? When we lose our cool(and everybody does), we’ve normally built up a ton of frustrations over a period of time and like a pressure cooker, we burst.

Triggers

All it takes, is for the right trigger to set us off and we all have our triggers. So it is absolutely essential to get stuff out of our system and tip number one is: 

Journalling

Recently, a client of mine was feeling extremely stressed about a particular relationship of theirs and they found themselves ruminating obsessively about this person.

So I asked them to write down everything they were feeling. They wrote two A4 sides and by that point, they felt they had gotten everything off their chest.

Be detailed

I suggested that my client be as detailed as possible with their journalling, as it is so important to give those ruminating thoughts an expression and the more one puts into it, the more one will get out of it.

Upon completing the journalling, my client proceeded to tell me that their stress and depression had halved instantaneously and the feelings of hurt and anger had subsided.

Why journalling works!

So why is journalling so powerful? Because thoughts and feelings need a voice, an outlet if you will. If they don’t get one, they will just ruminate in your brain and drive you to distraction. 

So my first tip for today, is to get your thoughts and feelings down on paper! 

Tip number 2-Punchbag!
Game changer!

Now this second tip is specifically for stress and  anger and I have to tell you, this was a total game changer for me. All I can say to you, is that if you have anger issues, one of the best investments you will ever make in your life is a punchbag! 

If you have nowhere to hang it, you can also buy free-standing ones. If you have no room to put one, find a gym that has one. All I’m saying, is that this will change your life! 

The tight feelings evaporate away!

The amount of occasions where I have felt tremendous stress and anger; even hitting the bag for 10 minutes will dissolve away the tight feelings in the chest and stomach.

I am mindful of how fired up I am about punchbags, but trust me, it was the discovery of the century for me! No exaggeration!

Ready to explode!

And it makes perfect sense. We go through stress throughout the day and we have no vent for it, so we become pressure cookers ready to explode! That stress has nowhere to go. 

Hit that bag for a few minutes and you will actually feel sane again! It’s the most satisfying feeling, when you are able to overcome these negative emotions in literally a matter of minutes!

The rage has to go somewhere!

If you don’t deal with your stress and anger, you will end up taking it out on your loved ones, which could have devastating consequences on your relationships. 

How many acts of violence could have been avoided, if those people would have taken out their anger on a punchbag? 

What’s a few minutes?

If you could deal with your stress and anger in just a few minutes, is it not worth that small investment?

Private coaching

I am a private coach and specialise in helping people reduce their stress and anger. Please contact me for a free 15 minute video/telephone call.

Check out another blog on depression and anxiety

Tips for depression and anxiety

Seven tips for depression and anxiety.

Today I wanted to give you seven tips to help with depression and anxiety. Now here’s the thing. I am very mindful of the fact that if somebody is suffering severe depression, it is all very well me telling them to go out for a run, or a swim, or for a walk, or to socialise with a friend.

Dark place

The bottom line is that when you are in a very dark place, you don’t want to do anything and I get that. 

You are  overwhelmed by these feelings of depression or anxiety, or both, and the last thing that you want to do, is to go out of your way to improve your mood and help yourself.

Not because you are lazy, but because depression and anxiety are so exhausting to deal with(mentally and physically), everything just seems like a monumental effort.

How long does this go on?

That being said, however dark you’re feeling right now, however much you’re suffering, I just want you to know that I totally get where your head is at, but you have suffered long enough and you deserve better. Let me say that again. You have suffered long enough and you deserve better

 The chances are, you’ve been in a bad place for so long and I know that if you really dig deep and create some new habits, your life will change. The suffering, the depression, the anxiety will become manageable. So let’s get into it.

 Tip number one: Meditation

I cannot stress enough what a life changer  this is. The biggest problem that people have is that “they can’t meditate”, “they can’t stop their thoughts”, “they can’t sit still”.

Well firstly, that is all completely normal and very common, but I would say one of the biggest contributive factors that make meditation so effective as a strategy, is the relaxing and calming aspect of it.

So if you’re struggling to meditate, go through the usual pre- rituals, such as turning the lights off or down, putting your phone on silent, sitting or lying down comfortably and then at the very least, just close your eyes and either listen to a guided meditation or some relaxing music. I often like to listen to different sounds, like rain or water or nature sounds.

Guided meditations or different calming sounds will divert the the negative chatter in your head to a calmer more peaceful place.

2- Move your body!

Exercise boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, which are feel-good chemicals. Not only is exercise great for your body, it is a massive stress-buster,  You could go for a walk, or a run, or a swim, you could dance round the house to your favourite music.

Whatever you do, get moving! There’s a great line from Tony Robbins. “Motion creates emotion”. The quickest and most effective way to change your mood is to move! 

Furthermore, sitting is terrible for your health, especially our backs. We weren’t designed to sit for the amount of hours that we do. If you have to sit for long periods of time, just make sure you take regular 30-45 minute breaks. Stretching and yoga is great and also calms the sympathetic nervous system. 

3- Get out the house.

I would say that changing your environment is absolutely key for mental health. If you are depressed or anxious and you’re physically stuck in the same place, you’re not giving yourself any room to breathe.

You’re not creating any space for yourself, physically or emotionally. You MUST change your environment. Getting out in nature has the most powerful calming affect on your brain.

When you are amongst trees, mountains,  a lake or a  river, you can truly lose yourself in its beauty. Connecting with nature creates such an effective diversion from your thoughts and you are breathing clean air which is great for your health. 

If you can’t get out in nature, go for a walk, or sit and have a coffee, go to the library, find a nice book to read, go visit a friend. Just get out your house. I realise this won’t be possible for everybody, but if you can, you’ll be glad you did.

4- Gratitude

I have a bit of a different take on this, which I hope will be useful to you. So we often hear how important gratitude is and I couldn’t agree more, but the main issue is that it can be monotonous having to constantly be thankful for the same things.

For example: our health, our families, financial security, our friends,. Don’t get me wrong, feeling gratitude for these things is important, but what about the everyday stuff? 

And when we go about our daily lives, what do we really notice, what are we mindful of? I’ll give you an example. If we go into a supermarket and buy a sandwich, are we mindful of what it took to get that sandwich on the shelves?

That sandwich had to be made. Chances are, there are people waking in the early hours to make that sandwich for you. There are lorry drivers who are driving long distances and working long hours to deliver that sandwich .

Then you’ve got to get the sandwich from the warehouse to the shelves and there is a process involved with that.

I found that if I really thought about what went into producing something as simple and basic as a sandwich, it made me look at everything with very different eyes.

The next time you buy a sandwich, think about how hard everyone had to work to get you that sandwich and feel gratitude for it. 

And you know we can apply this principle to anything. How we get heat in our homes, water in our taps, the ability to travel from a to b, the technology that enables us to communicate in seconds.

Appreciating the routine, supposedly mundane aspects of our day, can give us such a different perspective on life. 

So the next time you take a train ride to somewhere, maybe feel some gratitude towards the driver who got you there.  Being appreciative of the simple things takes the focus off you. 

5- Laughter

They say that laughter is the best medicine and they weren’t wrong. Laughing can dramatically shift your state of mind and potentially very quickly. Watch a funny Youtube clip, sitcom or film.

If you can’t think of what to watch, just type into Youtube or Google “top10 stand-up comedians“ and I can assure you, that someone will make you laugh.

What is fascinating here, is that we could be at our lowest possible point, but if we saw or heard something funny, we would still laugh.

I have seen this firsthand. In other words, I could be having a really bad day, and then hear something funny on the radio, or TV and still laugh out loud.

Two minute deep breathing exercise

Studies have proven, that a two minute deep breathing exercise can shift your state of mind, in some cases dramatically.

Simply take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds and then exhale through your mouth. Repeat this five times. This is especially good for anxiety, so the next time you feel anxious, try this simple exercise.

Final tip! 7- choose what you focus on

You’ve heard of the expression glass half full, glass half empty. So let me ask you a question? Do you focus on what others have, or do you focus on what you have? That’s a  thought-provoking question right, so I’ll let that sink in. 

If we are really honest with ourselves, how would we answer that? I mean really answer that?

Here’s something else to contemplate. Let’s take a typical day in your life and lets say that some good stuff happened on this particular day and some not so good. Will you focus on the good stuff, or the not so good? 

The message is this. It is your choice what you focus on. Focus on what you have. Focus on the good things that happen to you. Focus on your achievements, not the things that haven’t worked out. Everything is choice.

Private counselling and coaching

There are 25 strategies that I teach to help alleviate depression and anxiety. For one on one private counselling and coaching with me, please contact me for a free 15 minute free telephone/video call.

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Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome tips

Pots(Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) affects millions of people around the world and is a particularly debilitating chronic condition. There is also speculation that many M.E sufferers actually have POTS, as opposed to M.E.

Pots is a very hard condition to diagnose and I’ve heard many stories of people who have gone through painstaking and extremely challenging battles with the medical system to get a diagnosis, with the patient often having to either push for the correct diagnosis, or pretty much self diagnose in some cases.

Without getting too political, the medical system know very little about this condition and so Pots sufferers have to endure a double whammy of frustration, because not only have they got to fight this battle alone, but there are actually no medical solutions.

All that’s offered by the medical system is drugs and whilst they may help some, they undoubtedly cause side effects and create other issues.

Before I go on, I would like to make it clear that any of the tips I’ll be giving you today are purely from personal experience and for the record, I am not a medical professional. That being said, most of the tips I have for you, were not learned from medical professionals. Ironic as it may seem.

Tip 1- Add salt

Adding salt will increase circulatory volume and blood pressure and this is a must for Pots sufferers. And it makes perfect sense, because for anyone that has Pots, when their blood pressure drops, they inevitably feel lousy, often experiencing nausea, dizziness and a myriad of other unpleasant symptoms.

So sprinkle that salt guys and gals! Add it generously, to every meal if possible. Nut butters are fantastic for Pots, cashews, peanuts, (providing you’re not allergic of course). I’ve even heard that peanut butter in porridge is quite appealing!

Salty foods will include processed meats such as bacon, ham, gammon, cheese. I believe the saltiest cheeses are blue cheese, Haloumi and Parmesan, but regular cheddar is high sodium too. Salty crisps is an obvious one and whilst not the healthiest option, could really help if needed.

Tip 2- Change the way you eat.

Sufferers of Pots have noticed a big improvement in their symptoms by reducing carbs in their diet, but ensuring that a sufficient amount of carbohydrate is consumed per meal.

It is far better to have six small meals a day (a cereal bar could be considered a meal) and by eating this way, you can regulate your blood sugar levels and avoid spikes.

Blood sugar

It is so important for Pots sufferers to maintain their blood sugar, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, if your blood sugar spikes too high, you will inevitably feel the physical after-effects of that, which could result in exhaustion, nausea and generally feeling lousy. A spike in blood sugar usually results in an energy level crash.

If you are having a sugary food, try your best to balance it with protein. Foods high in protein are cheese, meat, fish, chicken, milk,eggs, yogurt etc. Protein is really important for Pots sufferers.

The importance of drinking water

Drink lots of water throughout the day as this will help maintain blood pressure and blood volume levels. Interestingly, salt is excellent for maintaining blood volume levels.

If you’re going out, take a bottle or two of water with you, a snack to keep your blood sugar levels up and nuts in case you need salt urgently.(This does obviously not apply if you have a nut allergy).

Gut

Many Pots sufferers experience issues with their gut and in some cases, the problem is not gluten, but rather very specific Fodmap foods. The idea is to avoid foods that contain a high Fodmap rating and to consume low Fodmap foods in your diet.

Two known high Fodmap foods that cause stomach issues are garlic and onion. Avoiding these is quite a challenge as there are so many foods on the supermarket shelves that contain garlic, but people are seeing improvements in their gut health by avoiding these.

Obviously there are no guarantees, but when you have a chronic condition, it is only you that can improve the quality of your life, or at least, the majority of the time.

Tip 3- Breathing technique

Pots sufferers often have a breathing disorder. For many, the act of standing up will cause the heart to work extra hard, and as a result, will see their heart rate increase dramatically. This is turn means that you have to breathe more, as you’re having to take in more oxygen. Your whole system is having to work frantically.

For pots sufferers, the problem lies in the fact that you’re taking in too much air, so the levels of oxygen in your blood are too high and the carbon dioxide levels in your blood are too low.

Breathing

So there is a breathing exercise that can possibly help. Lie down on your bed, or sofa, whatever feels comfortable. Breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds and out through your mouth for 4 seconds. Do this for 10 minutes per day.

Take care to breathe very gently and subtly, you don’t want to take deep breaths in and out. Avoid taking in too much air and expelling too much air when you practice this exercise.

The idea is that your body will learn to breathe properly again. It’s almost as if you have to teach yourself to breathe again.

Tip 4- Build up your leg muscles to increase your blood circulation.

For this, you could purchase a recumbent bike which is a home exercise bike, but with this type of bike, you are more or less in a seated position. People with Pots tend to struggle with the more conventional exercise bikes.

The other two alternatives, would be to go to a gym, where a personal trainer can give you some exercises to strengthen your leg muscles. Otherwise a good physiotherapist can set you some exercises.

Tip 5- Electrolyte drinks

So these can be purchased at a health food shop and there is a good brand called Nuun that sells them. What these drinks do is re-establish and balance the electrolytes in your body and the idea is that they help with sluggishness and that general feeling of being under the weather.

Tip 6- Buy a mobility shower seat

Standing is a real challenge for Pots sufferers and standing in the shower is no exception. Invest in a shower seat and this may help.

Tip 7- Wear a sunflower laniard

You can often get these at the supermarket and this will alert people if you’re struggling in a queue somewhere, or on a crowded train etc. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for a seat, or to move up the queue.

Blog and private coaching

Hope this article was of some use. Please check out my blog “living with chronic illness” and for private counselling and coaching, feel free to contact me for a free 15 minute telephone/video call.

Tips for living with chronic illness

Today I wanted to talk about living with a chronic illness and give you 4 useful tips that can help. Before I dive straight into it, a quick stat! It is estimated that globally, approximately one in three of all adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions . So you are not alone!

Tip number 1

Don’t beat yourself up for not getting done the things you want to get done. How many times have you beat yourself up for not accomplishing what you wanted to accomplish  and that leads you down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts such as: “I’m useless” “why can’t I get things done like this person or that person”, “I’m never going to achieve my goals”, “why am I even bothering”, “I’ve lost trust in myself”, “I am never going to change my life”. 

Comparing and doubting

You are mindful of others who have no issues getting their stuff done and desperately crave their physical and mental energy. “Why can’t I be like them”? you might say to yourself. 

You start doubting what you’re doing, or you begin questioning your abilities. Maybe you want to start or develop a business, or you want to climb the career ladder at work, or you’re worried that you’ll lose your job, or you’re trying to find work during these highly stressful and unstable times? 

When your illness takes over you physically, it also affects you emotionally  and this is when you can become extremely self-critical because you feel like you’re letting yourself down. 

You are number one.

Well let me tell something right now. You are number one. You didn’t ask for this chronic illness, you didn’t intend to have a chronic illness, this illness happened to you. 

You didn’t choose it. If you can’t get stuff  done, you know what, it’s ok. There’s always tomorrow or the next day, or the next day after that. 

And if not then, then the week after that. You can only do, what you can only do.

Tip number 2
Acceptance

There’s that great line isn’t there “ Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change“. I think when we talk about acceptance, I think we have to be clear about it’s definition. 

Accepting the things we can’t change, this is not a case of being ecstatically happy about the things we can’t change, but it’s about finding peace with it.

Surrender doesn’t mean give up

 It’s about surrendering to it and again when I say surrendering to it, that shouldn’t mean that we bow down to it, or we let it defeat us, but that we accept the limitations that we have in our lives.

Most of us have limitations in our lives. You know on the surface,  the word limitations can be perceived as negative, but it is my belief that acknowledging that we do have limitations in life can be deemed in a positive light and that you focus on your strengths and your achievements, whilst being mindful of what you can do and what you can’t do.

And I think this is so prevalent when talking about chronic illness, because it is vital for us to have realistic expectations of ourselves and to recognise when we are pushing ourselves too hard. 

By being fully in touch with our strengths and weaknesses, we are focusing on what’s best for us. So acceptance=self worth.

Tip Number 3
Self care

So one thing is for sure, you are going to have challenging days and you are powerless over that, but on those really tough days, that is when you have to really step up the self care and compassion towards yourself, because it is so easy to forget about your self care,  especially when you’re feeling physically lousy. 

How can you help yourself?

If you know that’s the case, then you need to have a self-care checklist written down somewhere, or maybe on your phone, or in a notebook or a sheet of paper, essentially anything that can serve as a reminder. 

So for example: Is it important that you  start the day with a nutritious breakfast, that contains the right amount of essential protein? 

Do you need to eat a mid afternoon snack to keep your blood-sugars up? Do you need to keep a bottle of water close by to keep yourself hydrated? 

Do you meditate or practice deep breathing or Yoga? Do you need to take a 15 minute powernap? 

Do you need to just lie down and relax?  If you’re at work, can you slip away during lunchtime and go and sit in a park? 

Can you cook a nice meal for yourself, or for you and your family? Can you lose yourself in a book? Can you get out in nature? 

Getting out in nature is such a tonic, mentally and physically. Can you chat with a family member or a friend? Can you listen to an inspiring podcast, or something that makes you laugh? 

Can you escape in a movie or tv show? Can you take a bath, maybe with bath bombs,  scented candles or Epsom salts? 

Do you like puzzles or board games?  Maybe cat videos make you smile? 

I just want you to have a self-care checklist of feel good activities, where you can recharge your mind and body and create some space from the physical challenges that affect you during the day. 

Tip number 4
The Power of your language

When you’re feeling physically awful, It would be completely unrealistic to expect you to be ultra positive and happy, but at the same time, it’s really useful to look at the language we use on a daily basis.

Let’s look at some examples. So let’s say you go to bed. You fall asleep pretty easily,  you wake up at 2 am or 3 am, but you get back to sleep. 

You then wake up again at maybe 5 am, but then you get back to sleep again; overall you get around 6 -7 hours quality sleep, notwithstanding the interruptions.

How do you respond?

So if somebody asked you how your night was, how would you respond? For some of you, you may be tempted to say that you had a bad night, (because you woke up several times), but others might say that they had a good night and not even mention the fact that they woke up several times, because their perception was that they had 6-7 hours sleep.

What about a typical family day out on a Sunday? For half the day, everyone got on famously and the day flowed, but for the other half of the day, a few arguments ensued, maybe one argument got particularly stressful. 

If someone asked you how your Sunday was, how would you respond? Would you focus on the part that went well, or the part that didn’t go so well? 

Let’s say you spent half the day physically suffering, but the other half feeling good? If someone were to ask you how you felt physically that day, would you focus on the good part, or the part where you struggled? 

The language you use is so key to your mental health and indeed how you see the world and everything that you go through in life. 

It can be really beneficial to talk to somebody about how you feel. I am an empathetic counsellor who will help you to navigate your journey with chronic illness and can give you some useful techniques to cope. 

Contact me for your free video/telephone call. 

How to get over anxiety fast!

Today I wanted to talk about a great strategy for anxiety which involves creating a fears diary. 

Can you relate?

How many times do we worry about something and it never happens?  Or the total opposite happens? Or the outcome wasn’t as bad as we had predicted?

But even though we know this,  our thoughts  still ruminate on a loop and the worry just goes round and round in circles. 

The worst possible outcome will occur!

My favourite part of anxiety is the catastrophising; you know when every single outcome  you predict is the worst possible outcome that can materialise. 

The science bit!

Isn’t it bizarre that a tiny part of our brains called the Amygdala(it measures 2.25cm each side) is responsible for this lovely entity we call “anxiety”! However there is good news my friends! We can break this cycle of anxiety and here is what you do! Drum roll please!!

Get a notepad, or if you prefer, create a folder in your phone notes and name it “fears diary”. Then what I want you to do, is every time you feel anxious about something, make a note of it. 

Remember the fine details!

It’s important to be specific, so make a note of what it is you’re scared of and describe how you’re feeling at the time. Rate your anxiety out of 10, so if you’re particularly anxious, you may want to rate your anxiety between 7/10 and 10/10.

Enter the exact date and then you’re done. Then, at the point of that specific outcome occurring, refer back to your original note and make a record of that specific outcome. Note that the outcome may occur many weeks, months, sometimes years later and this is why you need to be disciplined with this.

Long term

Now obviously some fears do materialise(very few by the way) and that is why you want to do this over a period of weeks or months, because it is highly likely that over this course of time, a large percentage, if not the majority of your fears do not materialise, or they do not end up as bad as you thought and in many cases, the complete opposite outcome occurs.

If you want to really get into this exercise, then make a note of literally every single fear you have, however mundane it might appear. The point of this is to get you to see the difference between actual truth and create a different perspective towards your fears which are 100% mind based. 

Mind boggling results!

Honestly, I tried this exercise and over a course of a few weeks, I noticed that 98% of my fears never occurred. Pretty revealing! 

Private coaching!

To work through your anxiety, please contact me for private counselling and coaching, where I use over 25 succsessful strategies to fight anxiety. You can book a free 15 minute video/telephone call here.

Tips to get over a divorce.

Today I want to give you five tips on how to get over a divorce. Before I get into those tips, it’s important to know the seven stages of the grief process:

  • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
  • Pain and guilt.
  • Anger and bargaining.
  • Depression.
  • The upward turn.
  • Reconstruction and working through.
  • Acceptance and hope.
Shock and denial

So shock and denial are the first emotions that we feel after a divorce and that is what is commonly known as the “raw” stage, where you are just a mess. Your emotions are all over the place, you’re in a state of shock and for many, you’ll lose your appetite, have trouble sleeping, think obsessively about the person, that’s all completely normal. There’s a refusal to accept the reality of the divorce, for many, you actually can’t conceive that you have split up from your partner.

Pain and guilt

What follows tends to be pain and guilt. Guilt is often felt by the person who ends the relationship, ie they feel guilty for causing pain for their ex partner, whilst the majority of the suffering and pain is felt by their partner, who will pine and grieve the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, people who end relationships also feel pain, but it tends to be their partner who will go through the gut wrenching heartbreak in the coming months.

Anger and bargaining

Once the reality has set in, it is common to feel anger and bitterness towards your ex and even more common to question how you could have made things different, how you could have saved the relationship if you would have done X,Y or Z. This is the bargaining stage of grief.

Depression

As you strive to digest and process all these emotions, it is fairly common to become depressed and this is your way of coming to terms with the reality of the situation.

The upward turn

As time moves on and you begin to heal, you will feel as though a new life awaits you and you start to feel positive and optimistic again. They call this the upward turn.

Reconstruction and working through/acceptance

As you begin to embark on this journey, there is much working through and reconstruction of your emotions taking place, which will then create a roadmap for acceptance and hope for the future.

Ok let’s get into these tips:

Tip 1

Allow the grief to come through

Acknowledge that this is going to be a tough road ahead and allow yourself to feel the feelings. “Feeling is healing”. The more you cry and let it out, the quicker you will get over someone and get them out of your system. And it’s true, when we are with a partner, we do everything with that person, we share our life with them, so they do become part of our identity. And that’s why it’s perfectly ok to grieve. In fact you need to grieve. If you carry all that grief inside of you, imagine what a burden that is on you mentally and physically.

Tip 2

Time heals

“Time heals all wounds”. Actually it is you that heals the wound, time is just the facilitator of that. Now I am about to make a statement and there will be many people who will want to throw something at me(possibly darts), but just bear with me on this! The average time it takes to heal the raw pain of a divorce can range anywhere between 6 months to a year, but I would say more commonly 9-12 months. Note I am referring to the “raw shock/denial” stage, not the overall state of grief.

And yes, some folks never get over someone and I get that, but I am referring to the majority of people out there, who do transition from grief and heartbreak and come out the other side. This timescale is not set in stone, some will heal quicker than others, the bottom line is that the heart is more resilient than you’ll ever know.

Human beings can get through anything in life and we do. A large proportion of people go on to establish new relationships with partners and some remarry.
Remember this. Whatever you feel is ok. But in time. everything passes, everything shifts, everything heals. It’s just the rule of life. 

Tip 3

You will move on

You will heal. You will get over your ex partner. The biggest fear for someone who’s just split from their partner is that they won’t heal and they won’t get over their ex.
It’s estimated that there is a 40-50% divorce rate in the Usa. Sadly, it’s part of life. We meet someone, we fall in love, some marry, some don’t, but breaking up from someone is part of the cycle of life. Relationships are complex, people are complex, but we are also designed to heal and move on. I promise you, you will heal and move on.

Tip 4

Get to know yourself

Many people go on to love new partners. For someone whose just had a breakup, another common fear to have is the fear of being alone. Many will worry about never finding love again. It’s ok to have this fear and it’s normal, but the fact is that many do go on to love again. Doesn’t have to be tomorrow. Get used to being single. Spend quality time with yourself and find a new appreciation for your own company.

The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself.
When you have healed your loss and moved on and you will move on, get out there, meet people, online date, sign up for a class. There are so many people out there who will appreciate you and love you. You just have to get out there. 

Tip 5

It’s hard but necessary

Delete pictures and videos of your ex from your electronic devices and defriend and unfollow on social media. So this is very hard to do, but it’s a must. Social media has become such an integral part of how we communicate and see the world and by de-friending and unfollowing your partner on social media, you are enabling yourself to begin the healing process.

What so many people do, is get drawn into stalking their ex on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it and all you are doing, is tormenting yourself. It is particularity soul destroying, heart breaking and gut wrenching to see your ex move on with their life and to constantly remind yourself of them.

You need to do the exact opposite. Remember deleting pictures from your phone doesn’t mean you can’t back them up to a usb stick and put it in a drawer somewhere, you don’t have to permanently erase everything.

Constant reminders

Your phone and laptop is a different kettle of fish though, because you likely use those every day and you don’t need those constant reminders. This requires alot of strength on your part, but you can do it.

The quicker you do it, the quicker the healing can begin. The single most important thing you can do is to allow yourself to grieve. “To grieve is to heal“.

Private counselling and coaching

As you navigate through the difficult emotions, it can be really beneficial to chat to a counsellor or coach, as they can help you cope with your challenging journey.

I will fully support you to feel whatever you want to feel in the counselling session, aswell as show you some useful techniques to help facilitate your recovery. For private counselling and coaching, please use the contact me page to book your free 15 minute telephone/video call.

Grief encounter

Grief counselling

I was 25 years old when I lost both my parents and they died within a year of each other. 

My initial feelings were numbness, shock and denial. It was as if my whole world had collapsed on me like a ton of bricks. It was as if I had the rug pulled from underneath myself. 

My new reality

The toughest moments were the mornings, where as soon as I opened my eyes, the dreadful reality of my loss would suddenly  take hold. My parents, my beloved parents, were no longer with me.

Then as the minutes ensued, feelings of grief started to overwhelm me and take me into many dark places. I would cry rivers of tears for days, weeks and months. It took me around two years of regular therapy to facilitate my recovery. 

Totally lost in the world

It was as if I had become an orphan overnight. I was still lost in the world and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life, let alone process the loss of my parents. 

I felt helpless, tremendously isolated, deeply overwhelmed and lost in a wilderness of grief and despair. The ups and downs, the breakdowns and breakthroughs, the crushing depression and anxiety. It all played it’s part in my path to recovery.

Devastated and heartbroken

Essentially I was barely a young man and I had to grow up quickly, navigating my 20s and 30s without the nurturing love of my mum and dad. This created a massive gap in my life and a wound in my heart which would take many years to heal.

I was devastated, I was floored, I was broken, but I survived and here I am now and onwards I go on my journey through life.

When I look back on it, yes, time did heal and there was a grief process, but to be honest, I had to digest my loss first. I had to just sit with it, I had to just be with it. Only then in time, did my healing journey begin. 

Losing a loved one

To truly empathise with someone who has lost a loved one, it is my opinion that you must experience it for yourself and it is only this way, that you can have a deep understanding of someone’s grief. With that understanding, comes the ability to guide that person.

Volatile emotions

When you lose someone, you experience emotions that you never thought possible and so begins a rollercoaster of ups and downs playing out over a course of time. The process of grief is not set in stone, but this is a fairly common roadmap:

  1. Shock and denial
  2. Raw emotional pain
  3. Digesting your loss
  4. Processing your loss
  5. Tears of grief
  6. Anger
  7. Frustration
  8. Mood swings
  9. Depression
  10. Anxiety
  11. Bargaining
  12. Mind tricks
  13. Memory triggers
  14. Fantasy
  15. Healing the wound
  16. Recovery
  17. Coming to terms with
  18. Moving on
  19. Acceptance
Kubler Ross

The most talked about grief process model is the “Kubler Ross” model. Created by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross, her model suggests that those experiencing grief go through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Private counselling and coaching

Finding the right counsellor to help you process and navigate your grief can be truly beneficial. I can help you to work through those stages, where I will create a safe space for you to explore your grief and raw emotions. For private bereavement counselling and coaching, please Contact Me for a free 15 minute telephone/video call.

How to deal with Depression

I’d like to talk about a great strategy to deal with depression and I call it RTR, loosely translated as Repetitive Thought Rewire.

Depression can trigger terrible isolation and loneliness in us, yet there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who suffer with depression, so in reality, you are definitely not alone.

The stats!

According to the WHO(World Health Organisation), more than 264 million people around the world of all ages suffer from depression. My guess is, the numbers are alot higher.

What is depression?

So what is depression? It’s described as a black cloud. I believe Winston Churchill referred to it as “The Black Dog”.

Others describe it as a feeling of darkness, a feeling of mental exhaustion; you feel empty, you feel hopeless. You might feel numb. You might feel regret, deep regret at how your life has turned out.

Common feelings

Many sufferers of depression also feel tremendous anxiety, stress and anger, where it’s common to feel that life is “against you”, or “has it in for you”. There’s a big debate as to whether depression is a chemical imbalance, or a result of life’s circumstances. I feel both play their part and will depend on the individual.

Possible causes of depression:
  • Loss of a loved one or pet
  • Breakup/divorce
  • Job loss
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Illness
  • Health issues
  • Money worries
  • Family environment
  • Social issues
  • Growing up-school/college
Regret

One of the biggest challenges we have as a human race and it’s so common to feel this, it’s that feeling of deep regret. Why didn’t I take that job, why didn’t I work at that relationship? Why did I mess up my life?

Why am I in a miserable job I hate? Why didn’t I go for my dreams? Why was I not nicer to my parents? Why did my relationships fall apart? What if I would have taken a different road in life?

It’s a tough road

You know as a human society, we have so much to deal with. We have so many challenges in life. Life is hard. Life is challenging. Extremely challenging.

So what do we do? Some look to YouTube, a podcast, books or music to lift themselves, whilst others can only find solace in drugs, smoking or alcohol. We need to ease the pain, to reduce the suffering.

The suffering ends now!

Bottom line, we don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to be depressed, we don’t want be anxious, we don’t want be miserable, we don’t want to be frustrated. We want to live the best life that we can. We want to be free from pain and suffering.

The strategy-Repetitive Thought Rewire

Ok so let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this strategy. RTR is a game changer and I believe that it can really help with how you perceive things in your every day life. So what is RTR?

Well working on the premise that when we suffer with depression, it would be safe to say that we are pretty much plagued with negative thoughts all day long. The basic idea of RTR is that you can’t control the first negative thought that comes into your head, but you can the second.

When I first heard this, it had such an impact on me. Let me say it again. You can’t control the first negative thought that comes into your head, but you can the second!!

Perception change is key

In practical terms, RTR is when we actively replace every single negative thought with a positive thought. Essentially, most of our thoughts reflect our perceptions towards things, so in essence, you are consistently changing your perceptions throughout the day.

So even though we can feel powerless over the first thought, we can actually create a sense of control over the second and as a result, eventually free ourselves from constant negative thinking.

The meat and potatoes!

I feel the best way that I can explain what RTR is is to give you some examples of how it can be used, starting with something that would would deem to be at the bottom of the ladder of depressive thoughts, the weather.

Bear with me on this and I promise we’ll progress on to deeper material, I just wanted to start off with something easy.

Some examples
Negative thought

Let’s say you take a look outside and it’s raining. For most of us, our first thought would be something like “oh no how depressing it’s raining“. So using the principle, I can’t change the first thought but I can change the second, you would then introduce a new thought.

Replacement thought

In this case, your new thought could be “oh look, how nice that it’s raining. I love the sound of the rain and how nice that the flowers, grass and trees will get some well-deserved water”.

Negative thought

Another example. Perhaps you’re about to go for a job interview and your first thought is “I’m not good enough for this job, I’m going to flunk the interview and I won’t be offered the position.

Replacement thought

After having that thought, immediately introduce another thought, something like “I trust in my abilities, I am proud of my achievements in the past, I value myself and I believe I have a good chance of getting this job“.

Negative thought

Another example of how this works. I hate my job, I feel unfulfilled and I can’t see a way out.

Replacement thought

Your next thought could be “I believe in myself, I can do anything I set my mind to and I will go all out to find a job that I enjoy“.

Negative thought

Another one might be: “I can’t meet the right person and I’m going to be lonely for the rest of my life”.

Replacement thought

Your next thought could be: “the right partner will come along one day, I just haven’t met them yet. I am a great person and I have a lot to offer and one day, someone will value me and appreciate me for who I am.”

Negative thought

Let’s have another. You lose a loved one and this person was the world to you and you feel devastated and empty. Your grief is insurmountable. Now grief is a crushing emotion and absolutely knocks you for six, but one common thought to have is “I’ll never get over the loss of this person, I’ll never stop grieving”.

Replacement thought

You can introduce another thought such as “time does heal, I’m going to allow myself to grieve for as long as I need to and that’s ok. And I will heal”.

Negative thought

Let’s say you go through a divorce or a breakup and lord knows they are soul destroying, incredibly painful and drag your heart and soul through the ringer. One of the most common thoughts to have is that “I’ll never get over this person, or “I’ll never meet anyone like them”.

Replacement thought

Now you can challenge that thought and replace it with something like “I will allow myself to grieve over this breakup, for as long as I need to, but there will come a time where I will meet someone else and I will love again”.

Why does this work?

So why is this so powerful? Because this is a strategy where you take control of your thoughts, rather than them taking control of you.

You may have heard of the expressions monkey brain or negative chatter. This is where your mind will consistently think negative thoughts throughout the day, often relentlessly. Why does the mind do this?

You have to constantly challenge the thoughts

Because it has been conditioned to do that. It has got into a pattern of negative thinking. The good news is that you can turn it around. But to make an everlasting change to your thought processes, you need to consistently challenge your negative thoughts.. This is why I call this therapy Repetitive Thought Rewire.

Practice makes perfect

It’s only by constant daily practice, that you will begin to rewire the negative thought patterns into positive ones. At first, it will seem extremely monotonous and probably feel fake, but in a very short time, you should notice a shift in the way that you think and view things.

Like anything, practice makes perfect and the more effort you put in with this, the quicker the results and the bigger the transformation. The mind can be extremely persistent with its negative thinking.

They say that we have between 60 to 80,000 thoughts per day, so it’s no wonder that many of them are negative. The bottom line is you need to ask yourself, “how much do you want to be free of this negative thinking?

Time is now

How much do you want to feel less depressed, less frustrated, less angry, more at ease, more fulfilled, more positive?

In just a few weeks, you could potentially turn your life around drastically, but it’s like anything and the last thing I want to do right now is to sound like some motivation coach, but how long have you suffered?

Let me say that again. How long have you suffered? How much have you suffered? Isn’t it time to start living your life? Isn’t it time to start enjoying life? Isn’t it time to free yourself from the shackles of negative thinking?

Create a new habit

There is only one person that can do it and that is you. Some say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Take three weeks out of your life and just practice this simple tool and your life will change.

But again I have to emphasise, you’ve got to be incredibly disciplined with it and make a conscious effort to be mindful of every negative thought that you think.

Practical

Remember this is a “mind” exercise, so you could do it anywhere. On the train, in your office, at the breakfast table. When you wake up and you’re lying in bed and you’re going through incredible anxiety or depression, focus on what you’re thinking about.

Introduce new thoughts. Remember, however bad things are, however much pain you’re going through, you can make this change.

Coaching for depression

I use 12 powerful strategies to combat depression, so for private counselling and coaching, please Contact Me for a free 15 minute telephone/video call.