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Starting 2021 The Right Way

2021

2021 is almost here!

“2021 has to be better than 2020, doesn’t it?’ this is something I have heard so much recently. For many people, this new year will be an opportunity for new hope of a better year to come. There is a feeling of “out with the old and in with the new” and we certainly need some new after this year. 

I think it is fair to say that noone could have foreseen the events of 2020 and most people who had made plans for this year will, at the very least, have had to adjust and amend them.

Is it even worth thinking ahead to 2021 then or should we just free fall into the next twelve months without a second thought?

I think you know what my answer is going to be!

If you know me, you know that I am a planner. 

I love to plan!

I plan everything. I love nothing more than grabbing a handful of pens and a pile of dotted paper and getting all my ideas out on paper. 

How can we possibly plan for 2021 when we have no idea what it will look like?

Well, I encourage you to plan for things you have some control over; fitness goals, home improvements, hobbies you would like to revisit or take up, changes to the garden, recipes you want to try… It might sound like playing it small, but these are the things that can change your life immeasurably.

I have spoken to so many people who have re-discovered or even discovered, things about themselves this year, that they had forgotten because they never have time to stop and really take stock. 

Re-evaluate and reflect

Most of us will be having a much more subdued festive period than usual. We won’t be having big nights out and parties, we will have time with our immediate family, if we are lucky, and time for reflection and really working out what matters to us.

Journaling

There are do many ways that we can take time to process the year we have just experienced. Journaling is a great tool for this. Just take a piece of paper and either a pen or pencil and write. Maybe set a timer for 10 or even 20 minutes and write. Don’t filter anything. Just keep writing until everything has spilled out onto the page. 

Planning

So often things come out that you hadn’t even realised you were feeling or thinking. it really is a powerful tool.

Meditate

Setting the intention that you will have a greater understanding of the experiences you have had in 2020 when you meditate can be a wonderful exercise. You may see people, places or memories, you may receive messages in the form of images or words to help you make sense of things or you may just feel more relaxed, which is never a bad thing.

vision board

Create a vision board

A great way to collect all the ambitions and dreams you have for the coming year it to create a vision board. Cut images and phrases out of magazines and arrange them on a board on piece of card or foam. Or create a Pinterest board and then create a digital collage. However you create it make sure you put it someone you will see it every day. (I have mine set as my screen saver). Keeping focused on what you want your life to look like is so important.

Have an attitude of gratitude

Starting your new year with a gratitude practise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Whether it is starting a gratitude journal where you write 3/5/10/20 things you are grateful for every evening, or waking up every morning and listing three things you are thankful for before you start your day, gratitude is a powerful tool. When you focus on the positives, your brain learns to focus on all the good things in your life and everything feels more positive. 

 

2021: A great big adventure…

None of us ever know how a year will go. We can make plans and dream of things we would like to happen, but there is always a possibility that circumstances will change. Once you accept this then 2021 is no different to any other year, so plan, dream and manifest your best year ever and believe it will happen… 

Hot chocolate

You Are Important

You Are important

Do you believe you are important?

That’s quite a difficult question for most of us to answer I think. Of course the answer is yes, you are important, but do you believe it?

Over the last few weeks I have had the honour of interviewing many amazing women for my The Super Woman Life series. They all had one thing in common. None of them believed that they had done anything special, or that they were anything out of the ordinary. 

Let me tell you these are incredible women, they have achieved amazing things against unbelievable obstacles and they are inspiring so many people, but they can’t see it. They think they are just “normal”.

Of course, the reality is, they are normal.

We all are.

 

Does that make us any less impressive, or any less important?

 

Hell no!

Part of the issue, as I see it, is that we all grow up looking up to someone. It may be our parents, grandparents, teachers, celebrities… whoever it is that we admire, we put them on a pedestal. They are perfect. They have achieved phenomenal things and inspired us to be the best version of ourselves we can be. 

Then as we grow, we update our idols. We begin to look up to other people in our industry, friends who have survived and celebrities who reflect everything we want to be. 

We continually update our list of people we admire but at what point do we allow ourselves to be on that list?

 

Well, the sad thing is, most people never do.

We are all achieving amazing things, overcoming our fears, learning, growing, helping others… changing the world, but we are unable to see it.

I have been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people in my life, and from a young age too.

Important

My background

I didn’t grow up in a show biz family or anything but I loved theatre and did a lot of musicals in my teens and twenties. I did all sorts of shows, I even did one night at the London Palladium. I had friends who did pantomime, I wrote for the local newspaper when I was at school writing reviews for plays and shows we had seen with school. As a result I met, and often spent time with, lots of celebrities.

Alan RIckman

These are some of my most treasured photos of me meeting Alan Rickman following an interview I did with him for the local newspaper. Even at 17 years old, I wasn’t star struck, I had met enough actors and performers to know they are just people. I worked with Jane MacDonald on a show and at one time was meeting so many “famous” people I don’t even have any photographic evidence because it just didn’t seem like something that significant (and of course we didn’t all carry a camera phone in our pocket then!).

Despite this, I have still struggled with feeling overwhelmed at the thought of talking to some people I have interviewed. 

Imposter Syndrome

I still don’t feel starstruck at the thought of talking to, or meeting, celebrities. What I do struggle with is interacting with people I really admire. People I feel have achieved so much more than I have. My imposter syndrome comes out to play and I ask myself questions like “Who am I to interview them?”, “Why would they want to talk to me?”, “What have I got to contribute?”. Sound familiar?

What if I told you that everyone feels the same way?

I have spoken to many people in the public eye and rarely do they think they are any better than everyone else, most are still amazed that they are recognised and that anyone listens to them. More importantly most would still be surprised if someone they look up to approached them to do some work. 

Last week I interviewed the beautiful Theresa Cheung. Theresa is an author and spiritual expert. She has also been one of my greatest teachers. 

A few years ago now Theresa contacted me by email. Having read Theresa’s books for many years, at first I thought it was spam. Imagine my surprise when I replied and ended up chatting with her on the phone about a project she wanted me to work with her on!  I was blown away. Why on earth would this best selling author want to work with me?

Well, she was searching the internet and I had written about using Star Wars to help children with mindfulness.  She was looking for someone with an understanding of the spiritual aspects of Star Wars and before I knew it I was on a panel at Comic Con! Here we are with some of the other contributors to the project!

Why I chose to Become the Force

We have kept in touch ever since so when I started my Super Woman Life interview series I contacted her to ask if she would be interviewed. Bearing in mind she was on Russell Brand’s podcast recently and has been featured on various TV programmes talking about how we are all coping with lockdown and the dreams we may be haivng, I was honoured when she jumped at the chance. Not only that but when I interviewed her last week, she spent the first few minutes complimenting me – you can imagine how that surprised me!   

That was what got me thinking about this subject. It doesn’t seem to matter who I meet, who I work with, there will always be people who I admire and look up to, and who I am amazed want to work with me. 

For me it is a sign of respect. I am in awe of their knowledge, their skills and their strength.

 

Gaining Perspective

Some of the women I have interviewed for this amazing series have wondered why I have approached them. What have they done that’s so remarkable? Why would anyone be interested in them? Yet some of them have actually cried as they watched back their interview and heard them telling their own story. We are all capable of incredible strength and courage when necessary, we just get on with it. When we see that same resilience in others we are amazed at their courage. Somehow watching themselves back on screen enabled them to detach from their own story and see their own strength, their achievements and their own ability to inspire others.  

We are all SO important. 

If you have any doubt about that, just stop to think about what the world would be like without you. That’s a bit intense, but if you are still struggling with believing your are important, that’s a great way to realise how many people love you, need you, would miss you, you have an enormous impact. You are incredible.

 

Accepting compliments 

I am slowly learning that I can look up to people and still be important and have an impact myself. Admiring others doesn’t mean I don’t respect myself, or that I feel unworthy.  

Learning to accept compliments and praise is something many of us struggle with. For years I would bat away compliments with a justification or a dismissal. Over time I have learned to say “thank you” or “that’s so kind”. Sometimes it still takes effort to do that, but I am getting used to it and you can too. Next time someone pays you a compliment accept it graciously. It isn’t big headed or showing off, it is being graceful and grateful.  

I’ll start you off. You are amazing. You have achieved so much and I am so proud of you for the way you have coped with this year. I love you.

 

Do you want to read more about confidence? Have a look at these articles.

Body Confidence Reading List

Empowered Feminine Reading List

Shift your focus

Shift your focus

Focus on the positives. 

We are often told to shift our focus, aren’t we? To stop focusing on the negatives. We know it helps us feel better, more than that, it can completely re-wire our brains. Evolution has taught us to pay more attention to anything dangerous or scary in order to keep us safe. Which is great, and really important, up to a point. We need to remember that fire is hot and it can burn us. It is important to be wary in certain situations, such as when we are near a wild animal. All those situations require us to be cautious and we should remember the danger. 

It is this level of danger that our brain has been trained to focus on though, and it finds it difficult to scale down the reactions when the situation is something less life threatening, such as an interview or meeting that we are worried about.

We go into our primitive fight, flight or freeze response for these situations too, which unfortunately changes our body physically, preparing it for physical battle, not mental challenge. Our recall and problem solving ability are reduced and priority given to the need to run and hit. Not very helpful.

The last few months have been challenging for everyone. We have had a physical threat to our health, the emotional challenges of not being able to see our loved ones, financial worries… Many of us have spent the majority of 2020 in an almost continued state of fear and anxiety. 

This has impacted on our ability to sleep, eat and affected our mental and physical wellbeing massively. 

I am going to be completely honest with you, (because that’s what I do!) I was doing ok, I was focusing on the things I could control; caring for my loved ones, working, getting my daily walks in… then a couple of weeks ago something changed. 

I started reading lots of the articles shared by some of my friends on social media about the some of the darker aspects of this pandemic. I began to feel very scared and although I wasn’t feeling that way all the time, I did notice the impact it was having on my mental health.

Social media is a blessing and a curse. 

I am fortunate that most of the interaction I have online is positive and happy, because I don’t put up with anyone being any other way. The minute someone starts to be offensive or aggressive they are blocked.

 

social media

At the moment though I have a different issue. The people I really love and align with morally and spiritually, are all sharing articles about the awful things which are happening and might be happening, disguised by this pandemic and the related consequences. This is all very plausible, almost impossible to prove or disprove – I mean, who can we trust for certain as an information source these days? As a result there possibilities are swirling and my head is spinning. 

At the start of this week I had a massive rant to my family. It was completely fear based. That was the point that I realised I had been sucked into a wormhole of fear and frustration. 

I made a conscious decision that day to focus on the things I can change. To focus on my family, my friends, making my life as positive and happy as I can. I started planning fun activities for Halloween and thinking more about Christmas plans (who knows what we will be allowed to do by then!). I am concentrating on spreading joy and happiness, not fear and anxiety. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are still aspects of what is happening nationally and globally that concern me greatly. Until I work out what I can do to really make a difference to those, I am going to focus on me and the energy I am putting out into the world. 

Think positive

I know it’s easy for me to say, “I shifted my focus”, I have been learning how to do this for years. How do you actually change the focus of your thoughts? After all, it is out thoughts that control our thoughts, isn’t it? Firstly it is important to say that these are helpful tips for someone who has got stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, if clinical depression is causing the fear and negativity, this advice may be beneficial but it may not be enough. I would always recommend seeking a professional for help if you feel that you may be depressed.

Make a choice

Well, as with so many things, the first step is making a decision. decide that you aren’t going to allow the negative, fearful thoughts to dominate your mind any more. Whenever you find yourself thinking something negative or fear based just make the choice to think about something positive instead. Once you have acknowledged that you are in this thought pattern that is the first step. If necessary, decide upon something that you will choose to think about every time you have a fear based thought. Perhaps when you notice the thoughts you will think about your children, dog, an event you are looking forward to? Whatever it is make that switch as quickly as you are able to.

Be kind to yourself

We are all guilty of being more compassionate with others than we are ourselves. When we give ourselves a hard time that makes it even easier to amplify the negative thoughts. If you are feeling down don’t beat yourself up about it, treat yourself kindly. Make a hot drink, have a bath, put on your favourite Netflix show and give yourself time to move through the emotion. We are all going through a challenging time, many of us have had months of uncertainty and there is currently no end in sight. If you have put on a bit of weight, not been as productive as you wanted to be or been a bit short tempered with your loved ones, take a deep breath and forgive yourself.  

Surround yourself with positivity

This might sound obvious but if you notice that you feel anxious or even angry when you have watched the news or been on social media, stop paying attention to them for a few days. Give yourself time to reset. Equally if there are certain people who are making you feel frustrated or fearsome avoid them for a fews days, weeks if you are able, to allow yourself time to collect yourself. You can also prepare yourself for seeing them by protecting yourself energetically before you see or speak to them, this will reduce the impact of their emotions on you. (For full instructions on how to protect yourself energetically have a read of this blog.) Equally important is surrounding yourself with people who make you feel happy and calm. If you are fortunate enough to live with your loved ones at the moment give them a big hug and show them that you appreciate and love them. Watch a film together and snuggle under a blanket. Comfort yourself and enjoy the company of loving people.

Get outside

Never underestimate the power of nature to calm you down and help you forget your worries. Just going for a walk in the fresh air will make such a difference to your mood, if you can get outside to a green space full of grass and trees, even better. The combination of fresh air and exercise is really powerful for all things mental health, but particularly if you need reminding of your blessings.

nature

The most important thing you can do for your wellbeing is acknowledging that something needs to change. It crept up on me and I am usually so careful about what I pay attention to; I avoid the news, negative people and keep my social media light, but at the moment it is difficult. We all have to find the balance between being informed and not allowing the fear in. 

If you need any additional help with your wellbeing or you are worried that you are past the stage of these suggestions being helpful please do contact your GP or consider contacting one of the many amazing mental health charities.

Samaritans

Mind

Change your relationship to change

“Change: has been the topic of the month in The Super Woman Life club for October.

Change is probably the word I associate most with Autumn. The changes seem so apparent at this time of year. The leaves on the trees turn from green to gold and then fall to the ground. The days get shorter and the nights longer. We all reach for our jumpers and boots and huddle round the fire with a hot drink. 

Everything about life seems to change in the Autumn. 

I don’t know about you, but I love it. I love getting under a wamr blanket with a cuppa or a hot chocolate and watching a film with the family, or reading a book, or even doing some work. Everything feels happier and more acceptable with a blanket and tea.

Changes in nature are out of our control. We can’t decide that we want it to be Spring, or that we would like it to snow today and make that happen. We accept the changes and we often embrace them. They are predictable to a degree. We don’t often get weather that is completely unexpected. We grow used to what weather we should expect depending on the season we are in (and I am saying this as a resident of the UK, where the weather can seem really unpredictable at times!).

There are other changes that we accept. We know we will grow older every year, every day actually. With that ageing comes a string of changes; growth, learning, changes in hair colour, number of teeth, height. We may not necessarily embrace all the changes as we head into old age, but we can pretty much predict what they will be. Just as when we are children we know we will get taller, stronger, learn to talk. We know that our hair and nails will grow and that will will learn something every day. It is expected and because of that it feels safe.

Changes we create…

Some changes we create, such as deciding to get fit or lose weight. Perhaps we make the decision to work on our mental wellbeing by meditating every day or doing more gardening. Perhaps we decide to make more effort to change our outside world by decorating, rearranging a cupboard, tidying up more often or recycling more. These are all changes we consciously make. These are the most amazing changes. This type of change empowers us. It helps us grow. It makes us a better version of ourselves and fills us with a sense of achievement or pride. This change is magical. We are in control and we embrace it.

Some change though, catches us out.

Redundancy, illness, bereavement… the list goes on. Changes over which will have no control but that we aren’t prepared for can derail us.

Any change in our outside world which is outside our control can have a huge impact on our internal world and, as a consequance, our mental health.

change

How can we stop ourselves from being floored by unexpected change?

It is important to remember that feeling anxious about change is normal. We are pre-programmed to feel safe when things stay the same. New things may be dangerous so we instinctively avoid anything which has the potential to cause us harm. We are often scared of failing too. Perhaps the change means we have to do something we have never done before, it may be a new job which has different demands or moving to a new area where you have to make new friends. We often convince ourselves that we are not capable of these challenges and as a result we stay in the safety of our familiar life and routines.

However, if we never change, and everything always stays the same, we never experience anything new. We never learn anything and we can never discover new pleasures either.

Imperfect change

What can you do to overcome your fear of change?

Accept that being imperfect is exactly what is required of youYou don’t have to be the best. You might have a quiver in your voice when you do your first presentation for your boss, that’s ok. Just by standing up and speaking you have learned to overcome that fear. You have grown and achieved something amazing.

Accept what you can control. All too often the changes that make us most uncomfortable and afraid are caused by someone else’s decisions. We have to accept that sometimes these decisions are signs that we aren’t supposed to spending as much time with them, or even that we shouldn’t have them in our lives at all. We can only control our rection to changes that occur, we can’t always change the decision.

Your life is your choices. Your life isn’t pre-destined. It is a collection of choices and changes. By choosing whether to embrace the changes that occur or reject them you are writing your life story. Sometimes we have to make that big scary decision to embrace a change in order to create the life that we know we are meant to be living. Grab that opportunity with both hands and hold it close, if you run away who knows when it might present itself again.

Take control of the situation. This may sound silly but if you make the decision to accept the change and convince yourself that it is something you want to happen, it suddenly becomes something you can cope with. This isn’t possible with every change, for example it wouldn’t work with grief, but even with illness, you can decide that it is a necessary rest and reminder of your own mortality. Appreciate the lesson in the situation and be grateful for the opportunities it presents. Harness the energy of the change rather than letting it control you. Make the most of what life has given you.

Burn your script. So often our resistance to change comes from a belief that we are not living up to the life we always thought we would be living. We have created a story of what our life will be like, often from an early age, and any deviation feels like failure. It isn’t failure, it is just another choice, another path you can decide to take. Stop and really think about why you feel that your script it the right story. Often we are trying to live our life according to a very outdated idea of what we sould or shouldn’t be doing. Burn that script and enjoy living the life you have been given. Everything will feel so much better.

So, as you are huddled up under your blanket this Autumn,take a moment to reflect on your relationship to change. Do you embrace it or does it fill you with dread? What can you do to make it more manageable?

If you would like to know more about The Super Woman Life  and the many and how it can help you to feel more empowered and calm, you can find out more here.

Cosy change

The Super Woman Life

The Super Woman Life is a brilliant new series of videos where I interview a range of inspiring, real women about the challenges they have overcome, and how they have used those experiences to help others through their work. 

I am releasing the first video on Monday 28th September as that would have been my Grandma’s 99th birthday. She was one of my heroes and I know she would have been fascinated by the women I am talking to, but also very proud of me for giving them a platform.

Over the years I have realised that every woman I have ever met has an incredible story to tell, they all believe though that they are just the same as everyone else – which of course they are, but that doesn’t make them any less important or inspiring. 

I’m not special…

We are conditioned to think that if we are capable of coping with something then anyone is, which of course isn’t always the case. What is true though is that when something is thrown at us we have one two choices; to sink or swim. How often do we listen to someone’s situation and comment “I don’t know how you do it!”. The fact is, we do, we just don’t know we do until we are in the same situation. 

Whether it is coping with a serious illness, a sick child or bankruptcy, we all have the ability to dig deep when we need to and survive these times. 

The Superwoman Life

Why a Super Woman video series?

The reason I have created the Super Woman Life interviews is to showcase some incredible women, but more importantly, to remind you that you have an incredible story to tell. That you can inspire others by sharing tales of your own triumphs over adversity.

By telling stories, by sharing our own pain, we give others the freedom to do the same. This process is not only very healing, but it can be life changing. If someone is caught in the middle of their own struggle. Feeling like there is no way out, or the pain will never end. Hearing a tale of someone who not only survived, but thrived, could be exactly what they need to hear to give them the strength they need to do the same. Ot also gives them a mental library of people to turn to should they find themselves in that situation in the future.

Super Women Revolution

Women are super strong. We support everyone in our lives, our partners, our children, as we get older our parents, our friends… the list is endless! If we aren’t careful we forget to support ourselves. 

By talking, sharing our stories we normalise what we have gone through. We feel less persecuted by life and we realise that everyone we meet has been through a lot, often more than we have. Super Women raise each other up. They prop each other up when needed too, but one thing is sure, together we are always stronger. 

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you. I am not an interviewer and I am certainly not a tv presenter. Recording these videos has stretched my comfort zone to breaking point, but I knew it was something I needed to do. 

If you have a story you would like to share and you would like to be interviewed for The Super Woman Life, please get in touch.

Supportive women

Personal Wisdom

Personal Wisdom

Recently I have been paying close attention to my personal wisdom. I have realised that during these times of uncertainty and overwhelm that it is more important to me than ever before. 

When I was younger too often allowed my personal wisdom to be shouted down by the loudest or most authoritative voice on a subject. I was reluctant to speak out about things that concerned me or let the most seductive arguement win me over. 

The older I have grown the less I concern myself with the opinions of others. Increasingly I feel confident that if I am true to myself then I will attract people who feel the same way.  

There are many issues we are being challenged to take sides on at the moment; covid-19 regulations (mask wearing, social distancing, school return etc), Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, poverty, homelessness… the list goes on and on. 

I am not one to ruffle feathers, especially unnecessarily, but I am no longer prepared to be pushed into making decisions for my family which go against my personal wisdom in order to conform either.

Personal Wisdom

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes

I have also become increasingly aware that I need to be more proactive in my approach to certain issues. For many years I believed that by not agreeing with someone I was showing that I was against what they were saying. That simply isn’t true and over recent years and months I have seen the importance of speaking out when someone says something I disagree with.

 

Not all decisions are on a global scale though, or even a national scale.

Personal wisdom is deeper than being true to yourself on public issues such as racism and sexism though. It is also important to listen to that still small voice when it comes to making choices about small scale things like exercise, self care, diet, career choices, social engagements. 

There are times when I listen to my inner voice if I am feeling tired, which I often am due to my acromegaly, or if my family need me. It isn’t wrong to prioritise that over work. Of course it is also important not to let people down for no reason, but if I can possibly rearrange something, I will now. There was a time when I would have pushed through no matter what for fear of letting someone down. 

Now though, I sit quietly, take a deep breath and listen to my inner wisdom. There have been times when I have ignored that voice, but I invariably regret it. Sometimes I think I should do something but when I really listen I realise that it doesn’t feel right. It might be a feeling in my upper stomach, just below my rib cage (solar plexus). Other times it’s a nagging feeling I just can’t shake. However I hear that personal wisdom though, I know to listen.

 

Being true is more important than being perfect

Do you know what? Since I started listening to my personal wisdom and tuning in to find out if I should go ahead with something I have had more support and my business has grown.  

I spend a lot of time talking about self care and the importance of making healthy decisions. If I then push through no matter what, who is going to listen to me?

By listening to my personal wisdom I know that I am being true to me. If I am always true to me then I will be consistent in everything I say and do (hopefully!). 

Does that mean I am always right? Hell no! 

Does it mean that I always try my best to do the honest thing, the caring thing, the thing which will help others the most, sometimes the thing that will help me the most? Yes, I hope so. At the very least I will always be able to hold my hand up and my head up high and say “I did my best with what I knew at the time”. 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Poet

It concerns me that these days many people jump on a bandwagon of beliefs without stopping and listening to see that is what is true to them. We see waves of beliefs and movements rise up and people are keen to be seen to be supporting them. Now many of these absolutely should be supported by most, if not all. Sometimes though, it is important to step back and look at where this wave started before we decide to jump on board. 

Equally there are other issues which are going on under our noses every day which we aren’t made aware of by big movements, but which deserve just as much outrage and airtime, such as human trafficking. It is important to listen to your personal wisdom and decide which issues you really want to fight for and fight with all your heart. It isn’t possible to stand for everything but please, stand for something. Whether it is animal cruelty, global warming, save the bees, pollution, homelessness, #metoo, FGM, the legalisation of cannabis, paedophile rings… the possibilities are endless, there are so many things we need to sort out in the world. But if we all listen to our still small voice and give ourselves wholeheartedly to one cause we will do more good than by standing for everything but only enough to share a meme on social media and maybe sign an online petition.

 

Be brave. Be bold. Be the hero of your own story. 

Stop the elderly relative who is being wittingly or unwittingly racist in their language (remember you can challenge them without being disrespectful. Acceptable terms have changed greatly in my life time and certainly have over the generations). Challenge the person who throws litter on the floor. Educate yourself about the big issues of our times and then decide to be the voice of change. 

No-one is perfect but we can all make small changes, in line with our own situation and belief system, that when combined with lots of other small changes, creates big change.

We all stayed home for a few weeks during lockdown and the impact on the environment was massive. Many environmental groups recommend making one small change such as getting a milk man who uses glass bottles. Once you have got used to that change, you can make another and another and if everyone was to do the same thing the impact would be immense.

If every time someone said or did something sexist they were challenged on it perhaps they would stop. They may not, but they would at least realise that others don’t necessarily share their attitude. 

Whatever your religion, political view, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, gender you are a human and you have an obligation to care. Whether you channel your caring energy into donkeys, children, refugees, clean water or keeping theatres open doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we care. So listen to your personal wisdom. Go deep inside yourself and find what you are really passionate about, and do it. Whether it is growing organic vegetables for your family or marching on human rights be the change you want to see in the world.

The Next Step – Coping with the Easing of Lockdown

The Next Step

As the UK begins to ease lockdown measures and life begins to return to a new normal, what is the next step?

Unfortunately for many there is still a lot of uncertainty. I know many therapists who were counting on being allowed to open on 4th July like hairdressers, who are now having to make very difficult decisions about the future of their business. 

This next step feels uncertain and for many is inducing more anxiety than going into lockdown. 

We have spent months being told it isn’t safe to go out, that we mustn’t see other people apart from for essential errands and now suddenly we are able to go to the pub or go clothes shopping and many are very wary.

You see the problem with deeply imprinting a message that we have to stay at home to stay safe, is that, we all then immediately feel unsafe leaving our homes.

Most people are aware of the powerful impact of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and affirmations now. We understand that repeating a message or hearing a message repeated many times imprints on our unconscious mind and can be life changing.

Unfortunately that means that “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” the government’s lockdown message to the UK population, is now so firmly imprinted that many people are now feeling uneasy, and unsafe, leaving their homes. 

Lockdown

If you are reading this then chances are you are more than familiar with this phenomenon.

What can we do to make this next step easier?

Well, there are lots of things, from research to energy protection. I’ll go through a few things that I am personally using to help me cope with this next step to normality.

Rationalise 

This is almost the opposite of the advice I would usually be giving but do some careful research from sources such as WHO. We have been bombarded with statistics during this pandemic which isn’t particularly helpful. Imagine if everytime we turned on the news we were told how many people had died in the UK today. We would all be living in a permanent state of fear.  Look carefully at the statistics. Often they can be more reassuring than you might imagine. 

Take sensible precautions

Continue to wash your hands regularly, avoid large gatherings and generally take the advice we are being given to make sensible judgment calls. If you feel unsafe going somewhere and you don’t absolutely have to go, then stay at home. If you have to go to the shop, hospital etc then wear a mask or face covering. 

We are all longing for time with loved ones and a good hair cut but if your intuition is saying “wait a bit longer” then listen to that. 

Breathe 

Many people who struggle with anxiety notice a dramatic change in their breathing. Given the respiratory nature of the current pandemic, and the necessity to wear a mask on occasion, this can then be esculated in our minds to a frightening level. Be aware of your breathing. Use a simple breathing technique such as 7-11 breathing (breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11) to regulate your breathing if you begin to feel anxious. Having something to smell, such as an essential oil on a tissue can also be helpful in regulating your breathing.                 

Avoid watching the news 

This advice may appear to contradict the first tip but there is a difference between educating yourself and being bombarded with what often feels like propaganda. It also means that you can choose to research the important facts when you are feeling emotionally strong, not all day every day. For the most part if you are on social media you can pick up everything you need to as far as announcements and key facts.  

Meditate 

Meditation is a great way to calm your body and mind. It doesn’t have to be for longm just 5-10 minutes meditation is enough to make a dramatic impact on your wellbeing.  

If you are new to meditation there are some wonderful apps such as Headspace, which can be a gret introduction to the practice. If you would like to learn more about meditation or book an introductory session with me have a look at my meditation page

Get mindful

Finding ways to be incorporate mindfulness into your day is another great way to ease anxiety. Mindfulness is not a complex practice, it is simply the art of being completely present while you are doing anything. It may be washing up, gardening, playing golf, walking to the shops. Whatever you choose to do, being 100% present means you are doing it mindfully. By not allowing your mind to be constantly racing and thinking about a million things at once you will give your mind time to process everything it is already working through. If you would like to learn to be more mindful and how you can incorporate these life changing but simple techniques into your life find out more here.  

 

“My philosophy is worrying means you suffer twice – Newt Scamander”

JK Rowling

Author, Fantastic Beasts

There are many uncertainties at the moment, but one thing is certain, worrying won’t solve anything. 

Easier said than done, I know.

It is important to regain some perspective as you take this next step. To stop and think about all the things you would miss if we continued to live in isolation. It may be that you have enjoyed the extra time with our children or time to get on top of jobs at home. Perhaps you have enjoyed the fact you were able to work from home, or maybe you have rediscovered a hobby you didn’t have time for. It has been a time of self discovery for many people. As a population we have learned many lessons too. We have consumed less, gardened more, travelled less and repaired more, spent less but appreciated more. It is important to try and take these lessons with us as the restrictions on our lives ease and we take the next step into this brave new world. 

Life will continue to be different for a while yet but if we are sensible and make choices which reduce the risk of a second wave we can begin to send time with our families and friends again. More people can return to work, which will ease the financial fears many have at the moment (in addition to all the other anxieties).  Whatever your circumstances I hope you are safe and well, that you feel secure and loved and that you feel strong enough to deal with this next step. Remember, you are stronger and braver than you will ever believe, you’ve got this!

 

Jumping into June!

Jumping into June

It’s June! 

I’m not sure many of us quite understand how that has happened this year, but the calendar says it’s June so it must be true.

Almost half way through the year and we have spent nearly a quarter of that time in a very strange alternate reality.

Many of us around the world have been in lockdown, or at least with restrictions on our behaviour and movement for a large percentage of the year so far. It is a very strange time to be alive and certainly one we will never forget.

Here in the UK we are just starting our 11th week of lockdown, and the conditions are beginning to ease but many people, including the scientists, have their concerns about that. Who knows how long life will continue like this but one thing I do know is that it’s June! 

It’s June and I have been juggling running my businesses with running online classes, seeing clients via Zoom, home schooling my son and everything else I usually juggle, since March now.  

That’s a long time!

Have I kept my head in the game all the time? – nope!

Have I lost whole weeks sometimes? – yup!

There have been weeks where I have been incredibly productive. Where I have got loads of work done, helped my son with his school work, worked in the garden, baked scones, crocheted gifts, rearranged kitchen cupboards and completed online courses and smiled the whole way through. 

There have also been weeks when I have got to Friday and wondered what happened! 

That’s normal.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic.

Some people will handle their stress by being busy all the time and by being very productive. Others will be handling it by eating their body weight in crisps and watching every series Netflix has to offer.

There is no right way to do this. We certainly haven’t been taught the best way to handle a pandemic lockdown.

As you know, I am generally a very positive person. I always see the silver lining or the lesson in everything and I can see many positives coming out of this situation. But I am also fearful of the negative behaviour I have seen from some of our world leaders. I can feel the anxiety and fear increasing globally and it scares me a little sometimes. 

However, I will not allow myself to dwell in those thoughts for long, because now, more than ever, we need to shine our light and be an example of love and compassion to the world.

My response

I have been finishing a course I began before lockdown the last few weeks and one of the things covered was the Psychological Phases of Crises and I decided they were worth sharing with you here.

 The 3 Psychological Phases of Crises

1. Emergency – we have shared goals, there is a sense of urgency which makes us work together, we feel energised, focused and even positive.

2. Regression – We are increasingly aware that the future is no uncertain, we lose all sense of purpose, we are tired, irritable, withdrawn and less            productive.

3. Recovery – We begin to resurface, we revise our expectations and goals, even our roles. We begin to focus on getting by and moving on.

I have definitely been through these stages myself during this pandemic. I’m sure you will identify them yourself if you take the time to stop and think about your experiences.

One of the best decisions I made at the start of lockdown was to start writing a diary. I have always written my Gratitude Diary (writing down 10 things I am thankful for every night before I go to sleep), but this is a proper journal. I sit for a few minutes before I sleep every night and I write everything from what I have done during the day to how I am feeling and anything that might be concerning me about the current situation.  

“Show up. Shine. Let it go.”

Danielle La Porte

Author

It has been a very helpful therapeutic tool, I often recommend clients keep a diary of their thoughts and feelings as it is such a useful way of accessing your deeper emotions. It has also helped me to keep track of events during this time too though, and I know it will be really interesting to look back in in years to come.

 

Eleven weeks. 

 Eleven weeks of a new reality, which I have to admit I am enjoying immensely in parts. But also eleven weeks of  a slightly wishy washy approach to life. I have let my diet slip (not too far, but further than I would like). I am exercising in a sporadic, “when the mood takes me” way. I have been working some days and not at all others. Weekends slide through the week and the promise of a Zoom with my loved ones is enough to make me abandon almost any plan I already had.

I’ve had enough!  

I’ve had enough of free falling and seeing where the wind takes me. It is time to get some preper structure back into my days and to get really productive again. Today is the 1st June and that seems like the perfect day to start my new regime.

This morning I woke up, (admittedly later than I would on a normal school morning, but I don’t have to spend an hour doing the school run so that’s not too bad!) and I immediately went downstairs and did half an hour of yoga. I worked solidly in my office all morning, including my mastermind group Zoom which really helped fire me up. 

I had lunch with my family (one of the many things I am really appreciating about lockdown), then I came straight back in my office to spend the afternoon scheduling calls and writing this post. 

 I am making a gf/df quiche for tea with salad and I will either go for a walk or get on my rowing machine after that. Then this evening is my online Meditation Group (Lockdown Meditation Sessions you can sign up and join us every Monday evening, it’s completely free!).

You see I have decided that this free falling has to end, so it will. That’s how powerful our mind is when it is really determined. I can be quite stubborn when I want to be (ask my family!) but that comes in really handy when I need to make. change. I like to have a start date and am really motivated by routine so I think this will prove really helpful. 

Will I beat myself up if I don’t get up for yoga every morning? – no!

Will there be days when I don’t eat as healthily as I would like? – definitely!

But as long as I achieve the 80-20 balance then I will be winning. 

I am also taking part in a social media challenge this month where I have to post an image relating to a particular aspect of my business every day, so that will help keep me motivated. If you would like to follow my progress you can follow me here:

My challenge to you this June 

1. Take time to sit with your emotions and really get clear on how you are feeling right now. Perhaps you have been treating yourself to a few more biscuits than usual and although you are enjoying them, the side effects are making you sluggish, tired and you aren’t happy with how you are feeling. Maybe you are just really missing your loved ones and you need to call them or go round for a socially distanced cuppa. However you are feeling, embrace it and listen to the message it is giving you. 

2. Create an affirmation around how you are feeling. An affirmation is a positive statement in the present tense that you can carry with you to really deepen the message you need to take from these learnings. 

So you might choose;

I make healthy choices and my body looks and feels amazing. 

I am energised and motivated to be productive each and every day. 

I take the time to connect with my loved ones every day. 

Whatever it is that you need to work on, create an affirmation as though it is already reality. 

3. Get moving. Now, you know how you are feeling and what you need go for a walk, dance round the kitchen or just pace round your garden barefoot and really embed that message. Repeat your affirmation to yourself as you walk or dance. Repeat is when you are getting ready to sleep and repeat it every morning as you wake up. 

4. Be gentle with yourself. Remember these are difficult times for everyone. We are all digging deep into our mental reserves right now. Get up and do your best, but if you really, really can’t do it today, then, unless you have to, don’t do it. Give yourself a break.  

5. Keep your sources positive. What do I mean by that? I mean be careful what you read. Be careful who you talk to. Be aware of how much news you are watching/reading. If you watch every update and constantly scroll through social media it will zap your energy quicker ran running a marathon in this heat. Keep the things you allow into your body positive. Thoughts and feelings are energy which feed your body just as much as food and water. Make sure you don’t expose your body to too much junk food/ junk thoughts.

Finally, I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you, yes you! We are living through an experience that noone has really ever lived through on this scale before. We have legitimate fears for our health, financial security, for the future generally, but we are all making decisions based on what benefits the collective good. 

That is amazing. 

You are amazing 

Thank you x

 

Related Blogs:

We need a hero

Mental health and the Coronavirus

 

We need a Hero

Captain Tom has captured the hearts of a nation, indeed the world, over recent days. This incredible man has, at time of writing, raised over £22 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden, before his 100th Birthday on 30th April. 

This determined Yorkshireman (I had to mention it as a Yorkshire lass myself!) has been interviewed on TV and radio stations around the world, has had messages from Prince William, Boris Johnson, countless celebrities and has even released a single with another of my favourite men, Michael Ball.

There is no doubt that what he has achieved is heroic, and I can’t think of a more perfect figure to inspire us at this difficult time. 

Were we looking for a hero though?

In times of crisis we need a beacon of hope. When we feel threatened we shine the Bat light, we pray, we look for someone to rescue us. We search for stories of survivors, of helpers. 

We look for those beacons of hope that we will get through this, that we are being helped.  

Difficult times bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen it throughout the centuries. Communities pull together, support each other and rise up to protect each other against whatever the threat may be.

United against the enemy.

More often than not this has been one tribe, belief system or country uniting against another. 

There are so many similarities between our current situation and the war times of the past; food shortages, lives at risk, essential workers taking priority over entertainment and frivolity, community spirit growing, uncertainty but most of all fear and a palpable grief for a life that we may never fully return to. We may not be living in fear of a bomb dropping on our house, but instead we daren’t visit our parents in case we give them a virus which might kill them. There are shortages of essential equipment for the workers who need it to keep themselves and their families safe. While there may not currently be any real food shortages, but the panic buying, which was caused by fear that there would be shortages, has caused certain products to be impossible to buy.

Many families are facing very challenging times financially. There is fear over families where abuse may be taking place and the world has a very real fear of the actual virus and whether we are strong enough to fight it should we become infected. 

The fear of the world may never be quite as it once was, the threat to our daily routine, the threat to our lives, is all very much like a war. 

Our current crisis is very different. 

 We aren’t fighting other humans, we are fighting an invisible virus. The whole world is united against this threat. The whole world working towards a cure. Trying to figure out the most effective way to triumph. 

Mean while most of us are sitting at home and desperately searching for an escape; mental and physical. There is no wonder then that we discover a man like Captain Tom, a wise, humble man who had the modest ambition of raising £1000 for the NHS, and we follow his story, place all our hope in him and celebrate him. He is indeed our hero of the Corona Crisis.

This fabulous veteran fought in World War II helping to defeat a very different “enemy” and he has now raised a miraculous amount to help protect the UK against this new invisible enemy.  

When we are scared we all need a hero. A child who falls needs their parent. If someone is being attacked the hope that there will be a hero to rescue them. The citizens of Metropolis look out for Superman when someone needs saving and we have all been looking for heroes to rescue us from this uncertainty.

There have of course been thousands, perhaps millions of heroes. The health care providers, the shop workers, lorry drivers, police, teachers, social workers, refuse collectors, warehouse staff, delivery drivers… the list goes on and on. There are countless stories of humanity and kindness but just as Vera Lynn became a beacon of hope during WWII so Captain Tom has become a symbol of hope for the current crisis. 

Thank you Captain Tom

Thank you Captain Tom for showing us all how to live during this time of lockdown. Thank you for your determination and humour in raising such a staggering amount of money.

Thank you for being our hero.

If you would like to Donate to Captain Tom’s appeal you can follow this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs

 

 

Mental health and the Corona Virus

You can’t move at the moment without someone mentioning the corona virus (Covid19). It is all over the news, newspaper and of course, social media. As with any big news story there are some who are being very flippant and making jokes about it and others who are panicking. 

I’m no expert in this virus but what I do know is that there is a lot of fear in the world at the moment. It is particularly affecting those most vulnerable. I have heard children talking to each other, terrified they are going to die, the elderly concerned because they are scared of contracting it but they need to do some shopping. Worst of all, for me are the tales of vital equipment like masks and hand gels being stolen from hospitals. The one place where these items are essential. Unfortunately fear often brings out the worst in people.

Corona Virus

I decided that this was a topic I should cover last night when I learned that the World Health Organisation had declared Covid19 to be a pandemic (meaning an outbreak of a virus or other illness that is worldwide not just localised to one country or region). This has led to more large events being cancelled and travel plans being changed for many. 

There is a lot of information out there about how to protect yourself from the physical symptoms of the virus, but I wanted to talk about the emotional and wellbeing aspects.

How can our mental wellbeing health be affected by corona virus?

We are being told to self isolate if we suspect we may have the virus. This in itself can cause lots of psychological responses. Many people will feel scared of being alone if they are ill, they will worry how they are going to feed themselves, if they are unable to get to the shops what will they eat (hence the panic buying of dried and canned foods). There are also concerns about money for many people. If you are self employed or on a zero hours contract you won’t get paid if you don’t work. Many people are concerned that if schools start to shut in large numbers they will have to take prolonged periods off work. Of course lots of people rely on grandparents for childcare in these circumstances but we know that they may be in a much higher risk category so that may not be an option.

Of course the people most at risk are those already struggling with anxiety and mental health issues. They live in a permanent state of fear and times of additional stress can be terrifying. But even those with relatively good mental health can be suddenly overcome with anxiety at times like this. Particularly if you have any underlying health issues which might be affected by this virus, or maybe you are self employed and worried about the impact on your business.

The importance of staying calm

What we do know though is that you will fight the corona virus, should you come into contact with it, much more efficiently if you are caring for your mental health. It is know scientifically proven that people who meditate regularly and who keep their stress levels lower have a more robust immune system and that all they are much more resistant to any infections and bugs doing the rounds. 

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel because this video by Joe Dispensa covers all the science. It is only around 3 minutes long but it explains perfectly the physiological impact of meditation and mindfulness on our immune system. Please do take the time to watch it and take in what is being said. This is science.

If we stay calm, we keep healthier.

 

How can you help yourself, or others, who may be struggling at this time? 

Stay connected/Check in on them.

It is so simple, but so important to stay connected to the world. Try to stick to your routine as much as possible. Check that others are ok too. Obviously if they are in quarantine you will want to call or text, but just a 5 minute phone call helps someone feel they aren’t alone. Perhaps they need something from the shops. If you are able to go for them you can always arrange to leave things on the doorstep if you are really worried. Be a good friend. Be a good neighbour. Care for each other.  

Stick to reliable sources of information

I tend to work on a need to know basis with anything negative. Obviously this is now starting to impact our lives around the world, but make sure that you are looking for reliable information and guidelines, not Steve on Facebook who knows everything about it (unless it’s medical doctor Steve!). Limit the amount of information you take in because watching every bit of news unfold can definitely induce panic. I would even go as far as saying, distance yourself from people who are scare mongering too. 

Be prepared 

Make sure you have a few essentials in, just in case you do have to self quarantine but please don’t go mad stockpiling. This only causes more panic and affects those who are already most vulnerable to food poverty. If you are living hand to mouth you can’t stock pile food. Make sure you have a few essentials but please, don’t go mad. 

As well as being prepared for quarantine from a food and provisions point of view, think about what you will do if schools are closed due to the corona virus. Make sure you know how you will cope if your children have to be at home for anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. You may still be able to go to work but who will look after them?

Consider whether you are able to keep working but from home should you need to. If you are self employed can you use technology to enable to you keep working almost as normal. I know people who are doing meetings virtually and teaching using online tools. Obviously this isn’t possible for all jobs but consider how you could change your work model to minimise disruption.

Take a deep breath

 I know I talk a lot about the importance of breathing when you are anxious or stressed but it really works. If you can just use a very simple breathing technique like 7/11 breathing or finger breathing to help you calm down you will feel better, think more rationally and strengthen your immune system. If you meditate anyway, make sure you are keeping up that practice, we know from the video how beneficial that can be for strengthening your immune system.

Embrace the opportunity to rest

I know it isn’t ideal being ill, and there may be underlying concerns you have about the situation, but if you do have to self quarantine try to embrace the opportunity to rest. Read that book you haven’t had chance to read. Binge watch the series everyone has been talking about. Catch up on sleep. Listen to music. Give your body time to heal.

Most importantly though for now, try to stay calm. Follow the guidelines regarding hand washing etc but make sure you are eating healthily, getting enough sleep and giving your body the best chance to fight the corona virus or any other illness you may be exposed to. 

This will pass but we can all make the process easier and safer by taking care of ourselves and those around us. Let’s choose kindness and compassion over selfishness and greed.

 

For more information about Corona Virus please visit the WHO website.

Staying mindful in a crisis

 

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