How well do you manage stress in your life?

For Buck bath time is very stressful. What do you find stressful?

Managing stress is a key skill in self-care, how well are you doing managing your own levels of stress?

When I first started out as a corporate trainer I would often be asked to run “Stress Management” Courses. These days the same course is often re-branded as “Well-being” Training.

Whatever the title you still need to be able to handle stress. Over the next couple of weeks I will share a few ideas with you on managing stress so you can add some tools to your tool kit.

Before doing so I want to spend a few minutes defining stress. Firstly, stress is something you need in your life to some extent. Have you heard of the little used word, “eustress”? Eustress means positive stress.

Eustress is what provides you with the motivation to get up and do things. Without it nothing much would get done. Here are some definitions that can be applied to stress in general:

  • Your life-force. It is dynamic energy. It is stimulating and motivating.
  • Not a bad thing in itself. It is mismanagement of stress that can be harmful.
  • The result of unlabelled emotions. The rational mind needs to label things.
  • A reaction to a situation and not the situation itself.
  • A motivator. Without it there would be no change.
  • The basis for the Fight/Flight reaction.
  • Fuelled by such things as uncertainty, change, helplessness, conflict, pressure.
  • Dependant on inner and outer influences.
  • Caused and experienced in different ways by different people.
  • More likely to occur in people who are ambitious, driven, sensitive or anxious.

Negative stress is the point where eustress tips over into feelings of not being able to cope. This feeling of not being able to cope is based on how much perceived pressure you are experiencing versus your perceived ability to cope.

The essential word here is “perceived” on both counts. The first step in handling negative stress is to reality check the actual level of stressors in your life and challenge your level of control.

Change your perception and increase your well-being

Start today by listing those things in your life that are causing you worry or stress. Now ask yourself how much control do you have with each?

 

If it is within your control, what changes can you make?

If it is something you can influence, who and how do you need to influence?

If it is genuinely outside of your control how do you need to adapt or what do you need to do to gain some acceptance?

Next week we will dig a little deeper into this model and begin building some strategies to increase your ability to cope and then thrive. Thriving is the pathway to well-being and it run right through stress and out the other side.

 

If you are interested in deepening your own self-awareness I am running a workshop this month called “Transactional Analysis for Coaches”. This workshop provides some useful insights that can also help you manage your life better. Follow the link for details.

Are you worrying about our planet and what the future might bring? How does this issue link to self-care?

Are you worrying about our planet and what the future might bring? How does this issue link to self-care?

Last night was Earth Hour. The idea is that you switch off your lights from 8.30pm and 9.30pm as a sign that you are supporting taking care of our planet. The idea has been around for about 10 years and started in Australia.

We took part in Earth Hour switching off our lights plus as many other electrical appliances as we could. For Joe and I caring for our planet is the ultimate in self-care. After all if we don’t take care of our home our other self-care efforts will be for nothing.

I am increasingly speaking with people who worry about the future, and I worry too. Today I invite you to take a step back if you too are worrying.

Worry has a value in that it motivates us to take notice of dangers in our life and environment. It is the cognitive version of the flight and fight response and if unchecked it can develop into generalised anxiety. This can lead to an unhealthy form of paralysis and stress.

So what can you do to stay socially responsible without losing yourself in anxiety, worry and stress?

Draw up a list of actions you personally can take to make a difference and start taking action from this list. There are many small and easily taken changes you can make to how you live in the world. Start there.

Review the list and take more action. Every time you take action to make a difference, take some time to appreciate your contribution.

As a general approach to worry here is a process to begin taking back control:

  1. Acknowledge what you are worried about and write it down.
  2. Reality check what you are worrying about (and if necessary get a second opinion).
  3. List actions you can take to address the worry.
  4. Acknowledge that you are taking action and give yourself credit.
  5. Schedule time to review your progress and add additional actions if necessary.
  6. In between taking action and scheduled review time put the worry in a box and close the lid.

If you are experiencing extreme worry or anxiety I recommend you seek support from an appropriate professional. There is an old cliché that a worry shared is a worry halved and there is some truth to that.

To return to my original thought stream about Earth Hour. Taking an action and interest in the state of our planet is good for you on a values and spiritual level. This form of self-care needs to be balanced with allowing yourself to also take time out to breathe and enjoy the here and now.

I make a point of spending some time in nature every day. This re-charges me so that I can give some energy to taking social responsibility for my impact on our environment and the planet.

Do you ever experience unconscious self-sabotage?

You have all the wisdom you need deep inside, stop and listen.

In an earlier blog I told you I had started a 40 day self-care challenge for myself. The challenge was to cut out sugary foods such as chocolate, biscuits and cake. I also cut out alcohol.

 

My motivation was for general health benefits including weight loss and reducing inflammation.

 

On the surface I have been successful in this challenge. I have found it easy to avoid the foods I chose to cut out. However I noticed something strange. I have gained about four pounds in weight.

 

At first this didn’t make sense. Then I reflected on how my eating habits have changed over the last few weeks.

 

I have cut out the specific sources of sugar but then quite unconsciously I have increased my carbohydrate intake. You probably already know that in the body carbohydrates are broken down into sugar.

 

How had this happened?

 

I have a theory, based on my training and experience. I believe that food issues are rarely just about food. In some way sugar has a place in my psychological and emotional strategies. This form of unconscious sabotage needs to be viewed as useful data. It provides us with information that will ultimately help us.

 

My suspicion is that this is rooted in some personal work that I have already cleared and that this experience is an indicator that there is some more to do. I am also aware of some stress in my life right now that may also be having an impact.

 

I have decided to use some specific tools that I find really useful as a way of exploring and clearing what this change in eating has triggered.

 

I am going to use two techniques developed by Connirae Andreas, the Core Transformation Process and Wholeness Work. I’ll let you know how I get on later in this series.

 

For me listening to your body in this way is another way of practicing self-care. Listen to your body, listen to your responses and notice what you learn.

 

Do let me know what discoveries you make about yourself as you deepen your self-care practice.

Do you live with an active inner critic?

Does it hold you back and prevent you from enjoying life fully or maybe stop you trying new things?

Transforming your inner Critic using NLP

A couple of weeks ago I first wrote about your inner critic and how it can sometimes undermine  your self-care. This week I am going to share with you some tips that will enable you to make some changes that will really help you transform that voice.

When we hear that inner critic speak

So, firstly a re-cap, your inner critic is a part of you that is trying to help you. It’s job is likely about wanting to keep you safe or help you avoid something such as embarrassment or rejection. It has a positive intention and this intention may be out of date.

The suggestions I am about to make will reduce the power of the voice or change it in a way that makes it easier to feel okay about.

You may still need to do some more formal inner work if the inner critic is connected to unresolved issues. If this is the case the changes I am about to suggest may only last for a short time or not at all.

When you clear the underlying issue the inner critic will either naturally transform or will be open to the changes below.

Here are the tips.

  1. Thank your inner critic for it’s input, help and advice.
  2. Listen to the words and evaluate, is there genuinely something to pay attention to here or are the words just a sign of anxiety.
  3. Experiment with changing your inner critic’s tone. It is your brain, your inner voice so this is easy to do. See what happens if you change the voice into something you can no longer take seriously. For example make it sound like Micky Mouse or Scooby Do. Alternatively soften the tone, make it sound like a kindly advisor delivering the advice in a soft, non-judgemental way.
  4. Notice the location of your inner critic, what happens if you switch the location? Sometimes this on its own makes a big difference. For example, if your inner critic sounds like it is on the right, near the back of your head move it to the left and further forward. Sometimes you may need to do this change before step 3.

These small tips have made a difference to many of my clients however if you try them and they do not work for you I suggest you seek out an experienced NLP Practitioner who can help you using one of the following techniques, parts work, six step reframe, re-imprint, Core Transformation or the Wholeness Process.

Where possible choose someone who was recommended to you by someone you know and trust. You can also check to see if the person is a member of ANLP our NLP Professional body and also ask what level of training they have.

Please be aware that NLP Training does vary with some people attending very short courses. Be wary of working with anyone who has only had online training.

More next week, have a lovely day.

Are you “giving something up” for your health?

What if instead of giving up you were giving yourself better self-care instead?

I know promised you some more tips on managing your inner critic and I hope you will forgive me for putting it off for one more week. I have a good reason.

 

I was reflecting on all the people who were posting about “giving things up for Lent”. I am not religious however I do consider myself Spiritual and I wondered about harnessing this idea for self-care.

 

I made a decision to explore what it feels like to embrace 40 days of reflection and sacrifice. The word sacrifice felt harsh to me so I reframed this as self-compassion with the idea that it will increase my ability to have compassion for others.

 

I will be giving something up as part of that process. I have decided to give up sugary sweets, biscuits and chocolate plus alcohol which I currently only take occasionally.

 

I suspect my need for sugar is really an indicator of some unresolved issues, some of which are outside my awareness.

 

From an NLP perspective, I hold the view that my unhealthy drives around sugar do have a positive intention. They are likely trying to help or protect me in some way.

 

I have some ideas as to what that might be and there may be some I have yet to consider. It is also possible that the positive intention is now out of date and the part of me that is running the drive did not realise.

 

I plan to replace sugar with self-care and self-compassion.

 

The phrase “giving something up” can be a block to lasting change so I am reframed this too. Instead of giving something up I will notice what emerges from my change in behaviour and take steps clear what needs clearing, acknowledge what needs acknowledging and release what needs releasing.

 

I am using a number of approaches including NLP, The Wholeness Process, Core Transformations and Journalling.

 

Having begun this journey it then occurred to me that a shared journey can be a very supportive thing so I set up a group on Facebook in order to invite others to join me.

 

I extend this invitation to you now. Would you like to join me on this journey of self-care and self-compassion?

 

Below is my original post. The name of the group is “Self-care for 40 days and beyond” and you are welcome to ask to join the group. I will be continuing to write my blogs on self-care here and  you can post  comments about your own journey or questions here on this blog.

 

“I do not follow any form of organised religion however I do consider myself Spiritual. I believe in a connection between us all and that we have the ability to share compassion.

 

I have been considering the Christian tradition of Lent. I have made a decision to explore what it feels like to embrace 40 days of reflection and sacrifice. The word sacrifice feels harsh to me so I plan to reframe this as self-compassion with the idea that it will increase my ability to have compassion for others.

 

I will be giving something up as part of that process. I have decided to give up sugary sweets, biscuits and chocolate plus alcohol which I currently only take occasionally. I suspect my need for sugar is really an indicator of some unresolved issues, some of which are outside my awareness. I plan to replace sugar with self-care and self-compassion. I will notice what emerges and take steps clear what needs clearing, acknowledge what needs acknowledging and release what needs releasing.

 

I will need love and support so if you feel moved to, please comment on my daily posts.

 

If you wish to join me on your own journey of self-discovery please do leave me comments in what I plan to make a daily sharing for the next 40 days.

 

Please feel free to share this post if you think it will help others.”

Self-care for 40 days and beyond

Do you have an inner critic bullying you?

How can you manage your inner critic with self-care?

Last week I began sharing with you my thoughts about how you (and probably everyone else) has an inner critic. Before moving forward I would like to remind you that you will also have an inner champion, are you listening to that part of yourself too?

 

Get perspective
When you step back and look at the bigger picture new insights appear

Both of these internalised inner voices are parts of you that have taken on a role. Both were developed unconsciously during your developmental phase and both emerged for a good reason.

 

As a side note, the type of inner voice I am commenting on is part of healthy normal development. There are people who have issues with internalised voices as a mental health issue. If you have any voices urging self-harm or violent behaviour please seek support and help from an appropriate qualified professional.

 

The focus today is on managing the inner critic. Last week I gave you some tips about acknowledging and evaluating the messages from the inner critic.

 

If your inner critic is particularly loud write down the script. By writing it down you will be able to get some distance and perspective.

 

Now write down what you think the positive intention is behind the script.

 

Definition: Positive intention is a term used in NLP to mean the motivation behind a thought, feeling or behaviour. The presupposition in NLP is that your unconscious is responsible for your patterns of thinking and behaving.

 

Your unconscious has a positive drive and is trying to protect you the best it can. Sometimes it has not enough or faulty information and so develops patterns that appear negative. Here is an example that illustrates what I mean.

 

An adult has a tendency to want to please others and say “yes” when they would really rather say “no”.

 

This pattern could have emerged for a variety of reasons, one could be that in childhood this person experienced disapproval from parental figures for saying “no”. Using child logic they developed a belief that the only way to be loved and approved of was to please others. This belief is held unconsciously and yet runs the adult’s responses.

 

Whenever this adult considers saying “no” to others or pleasing themselves the inner critic replays a version of those early messages. You may or may not consciously hear them however the emotions created are felt.

 

If this person continues to say “no” or please themselves their inner critic will continue commenting perhaps triggering feelings of guilt and low self-worth.

 

If the person suppresses their desire to say “no” or please themselves they may get a sense of relief coupled with other feelings such as low self-worth and unhappiness.

 

This has created a double bind, damned if you do damned if you don’t. Is this feeling familiar?

 

Now to return to my suggestion of writing down the script of the inner critic, as you review your own scripts consider “who was the author?”

 

The chances are the author will have been parental figures who in most cases had good intentions. By writing down your script you may gain some new insights that allow you to make changes.

 

Insights can be very powerful however sometimes insights are not enough. Have you ever had the experience of understanding something logically but hanging on to it emotionally?

 

This is a really common experience and this is where NLP can help you. There are many techniques in NLP that can help you re-write your script and become the author of your own life.

 

Here is a link to a free download which includes a technique called “Changing Beliefs”. The recording is taken from a workshop delivered as part of my NLP Research Dissertation into NLP as a way of improving Self-esteem and Well-being.

Next week I will share some ways of changing the sub-modalities of your inner critic to reduce the impact and perhaps transform your experience.

I am pleased to share with you that I have been nominated for the Research Award at the NLP Awards in London this May.

Are you being kind to yourself?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been sharing with you some questions to check how well you are taking care of yourself.

In my work as a therapist I have noticed something that many of you will also be aware of. Most people are their own worst critics. Have you been criticising yourself for not being kind to yourself?

Take a moment to consider what this means. This is a paradox. You are criticising yourself and not taking care of yourself. Consider this too. Whose voice is that inner critic? Is it really your own?

Many people have internalised this inner critic and come to believe it is their own voice however the chances are this form of internal chatter really came originally from someone else. Usually this person was one of your primary care givers. In most cases this person genuinely was trying to help you and believed their comments to you were “for your own good”.

Today I invite you to make friends with your inner critic. (Please remember if you criticise your inner critic this is another way to be unkind to yourself).

Thank this internal part of yourself, recognise that this part of you was probably trying to protect you or help you do something or avoid something. It has good intentions.

Learn to notice when your inner critic is speaking to you. Acknowledge it and then ask a question.

“Is this criticism helping me right now, in the here and now”.

If it is, thank the critic and let it know you have taken note. Take the appropriate action gently and with self-compassion.

If the critic is out of date, thank the critic and let it know this advice can be archived.

Try out these steps over the next week or so and notice what happens. Next week I will share with you some ways to change how you hear your inner critic so that it no longer feels harsh.

Are you minding your mind?

How is your psychological self-care? Are you minding your mind?

Checking how you care for yourself psychologically…

This week I will offer one final audit for you to carry out, psychological self-care. So what do you mean when you say “psychological self-care”?

 

That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked. From my perspective this is about your internal representations and that means how you store information. This will be in the form of thoughts, images, sounds, sensations, emotions and even taste and smell. These in turn will create patterns of thought, responding and behaviour.

 

So here is this week’s audit.

 

  1. How are you talking to yourself? Are you kind? Are you critical?
  2. When you check your internal image of yourself, how do you see yourself?
  3. How do you respond to compliments?
  4. How do your respond to critical feedback?
  5. What are you believing about yourself that is limiting you in some way? What are you believing about yourself that empowers you in some way?
  6. What are you believing about others that creates challenges? What are you believing about others that creates connection?
  7. What are your patterns in significant relationships?
  8. What is your relationship to confidence?
  9. What is your sense of self? Do you value yourself? Do recognise your worth?
  10. Where in your life are you unfulfilled (if anywhere) and how are your thoughts connected to that?

As with the previous audits, consider what questions I’ve left out.

 

What else is important to you?

 

You might want to consider an audit for your self-care in regards to Spirituality, in relationships or behaviourally. I’ll leave you to reflect on those for yourself and next week we will begin exploring strategies for self-care.

 

 

 

How well do you understand yourself?

Helping yourself
Self-care is all about looking after yourself. You can’t help someone else if you are running on empty

Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding others.

Last week I invited you to take an audit of your how well you are applying self-care to yourself physically. I wonder how you got on and if you have already made some adjustments based on your own reflections.

Later in the series I will come back to each of the points we audited last time with some ideas on how to look after yourself even better on the physical level.

Before we do that let us continue with the audit, this time the focus is on Emotional Self-care. Here are the next set of questions:

  1. Do you recognise your own emotions when you are experiencing them?
  2. Do you know the difference between here and now emotions and historically conditioned emotions?
  3. Are you associated or disassociated when you experience emotions?
  4. Does it vary depending on which emotion it is?
  5. Are there some emotions you believe are not okay?
  6. Are you aware of specific triggers for specific emotional responses?
  7. Do you ever feel out of control with your emotions?
  8. Do you ever feel remote and disconnected from your emotions?
  9. Are you aware of how personality difference might impact on emotions?
  10. Do you have strategies for managing your own emotions?

What questions have I missed out? Let me know what else is important to you for emotional self-care.

Next week the audit will be for Psychological Self-care.

Auditing your self-care journey. How are you doing?

Last week I began my new series focusing on self-care with an overview and introduction. This week about self-assessment and I recommend you take a few minutes over the next few days to complete this short self-audit.

In order to get the most out of this series you might want to begin a self-care journal to record your answers, thoughts, feelings and actions.

Here are your questions on self-care questions for Physical self-care.

  1. Do you in general terms take care of your body and health?
  2. Do assess situations that might involve physical risk or do you rush in?
  3. Do you get enough sleep? If not, is there a reason?
  4. Do you eat healthily? Do you know what healthy eating is?
  5. Are you over-weight, under-weight or within healthy guidelines for weight?
  6. Do you take the recommended levels of exercise? Do you know what recommended levels are? Do you do too much, not enough or at a healthy balance for exercise?
  7. Do you get regular health checks such as dentist, opticians etc? Do you get a regular general check up?
  8. Do you pay attention to your body and listen to feedback from your body?
  9. Do you take time to relax? For example do you meditate, use self-hypnosis, listen to music, walk in nature?
  10. Do you dance? Do you play? Do you laugh?
Find health in nature

What questions have I missed out? Let me know what else is important to you for physical self-care.

Next week the audit will be for Emotional Self-care.