Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dealing With Change

Change is inevitable. It could be anything from changing your mind to changing your entire life and it is completely unavoidable. We live in a constantly changing world that goes through multiple transitions every day and the most important thing is to embrace it. Sometimes change is the last thing that you want in your life, however change doesn't always work on our desired schedule, and a major transition is what is needed to develop and move on in life. 

Changing your place of residence can be one of the toughest transitions that you might ever have to go through. The longer you have lived somewhere, the harder that move can be. We can become creatures of habit and so a move may indicate introducing new habits, also, the not knowing what’s around the corner and thinking to yourself "will it all be successful?"

Think back to your thoughts… What was the main factor that lead to your desire to move? This is important as this indicates your ‘intention’ or goal. Intentions and goals can help us to succeed and achieve great things if we focus in the right way. There are two types of people who focus on goals. Those that are interested and those that are committed. Interested people are interested in change for a long time, in fact they talk about change in an interesting manner. Being interested in something can result in the change being an external goal. For example, I’m interested in moving over there, yes over there and make a point of creating a picture of how interesting that could be. Interesting people are only half conditioned to go for a goal. Committed people focus only on that goal and create an internal experience of how it's going to be living there. Their ambitions, aims and beliefs are so powerful its like their change is happening now. People with committed visions of change are inclined to make progressive moves faster than the interested people. 

My wife and I have moved several times in our lives and enjoyed every experience. Moving helped us to view life from new perspectives. Now we are making the move to Spain. We briefly discussed this in the past and suddenly the right time to move came up and we decided to make a committed decision. If something is right and meant to be, we may experience that ‘wind in our sails’ feeling. Very quickly our plan came together and the right opportunities presented themselves, giving us the feeling that we knew we were on the right path. What was important in our plan was to keep it simple and to stick to it in the face of opposition, manipulation or judgement. Mark Twain the poet wrote, "In ten years time you will look back in our lives and judge not the things you have done but what you wished you had done".

If your goal is important to you then its important you listen to your intention and dismiss negative judgment. Moving is something that you will remember for years and although it can be a stressful time, the change in your life should be celebrated. The tasks and organisation that you undertake in preparation for a move, help to improve your problem solving skills and the move itself is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. One good way of looking at the change of moving is to list it amongst the achievements in your life and see it not in a stressful light but instead as a chance to reorganise, experience new things and start a new adventure. 

There are many types of change that can cause stress, from change in relationships to sitting at a crossroads needing to make a decision. One of the most important things to do is reevaluate the stress. View stress as a challenge, not as a threat. When you view stress as a threat and allow it too much space in your life, you will begin to give the stress more importance than the task itself. Look at stress as a challenge to overcome, know that you can rise above it and this will diminish its control of you. When you are going through a change in your life, stress is the last thing that you want looming over you, so don't let it take control. Just beyond stress and anxiety is bliss. 

Another way to reduce the impact of stress is to appreciate the benefits of change. Changes in your life are not there to complicate matters, they are there to challenge you, encourage you and allow for your growth. Staying in the same routine your whole life can be detrimental to your cognitive growth and change is needed to allow for your own development. Look back to the times where you successfully dealt with change, use the knowledge that you have managed to get through all of this before and this will give you strength do go through another transition. 

It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed if the change that you are facing is something that you have not dealt with in the past, or if there is too much change happening all at once. This is the perfect time to seek support, talk to friends and family about the changes you are about to face or are currently going through, because chances are they have gone through something similar or know methods of coping with the transition that you may not have thought of. Consider the people that are close to you as your support network and do not hesitate to ask them for advise or support with your transition. Even an online community of people going through experiences that are similar to yours can give you an emotional boost as well as some practical tips. 

To be able to talk to others about the changes that you are going through, you need to acknowledge your own feelings. Don't try to avoid your emotions, listen to them. By thinking about the way that you feel, you are able to become less resistant to change and feel more comfortable with the idea of change. Often changes bring on feelings of anxiety, and it is perfectly normal to feel this way, but you cannot suppress your emotions during this time. It is best to identify the feelings and accept that the change is going to have an impact on your life, and then finally work through the feelings to reach a more positive and relaxed view of the transition. If you are struggling to identify the feelings that you are having then keep a journal of everything that you are going through and eventually you will begin to see a pattern that can highlight the most dominant emotion through this experience. 

During times of change be kind to yourself. A number of clients experience change as if the here and now are going to be presented throughout the rest of their lives. That’s not possible as new change always comes in. Try to evaluate the changes you’re going through as though you are viewing them from a third party’s view. This often clarify’s sense. One particular client of mine was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He came to see me and said "I want to change", he was not just interested in his goal, he was committed. Within three months he was free of addiction and alcohol, a few months later he went on to write me a magical testimonial still free of addiction. The method was partially working towards releasing the affect of addiction, but more importantly dealing with and discussing his life issues which lead to his situation. For him it was taking back control, he lost this in his previous relationships, his job and his mojo. We worked to get his life back and by letting go of past experiences and beliefs, he changed into the man he knew he could be. With these steps and support the addiction soon disappeared. 

For more personal changes, for example, relationships, loss, moving etc, keeping a diary is a very effective method for coping with change. When you write down what has changed in your life and what you are finding difficult, you will begin to notice positive solutions for the things that you are worrying about, as well as help you cope with the change by visualising everything that is going on and documenting it. Keeping a diary is also a great way of keeping memories because when you go through a large change it can be very overwhelming and some things can be forgotten, by writing everything down it documents every detail of the experience and allows for you to look back at the change in a more positive and sentimental manner. 

Through all of this change you may need to keep reminding yourself that you do have control. When things begin to get overwhelming the best thing to do is take a break and reevaluate. During a transition this is difficult to do because change is normally something that is out of our hands, however there are always parts that you can control, even the smallest thing can help with coping with the change. One of the ways to take control of the change is to prepare for it. Getting things in order before a planned major transition is one of the best ways to guarantee that all of it will work out when the time comes to undergo the change. For more personal changes, such as relationships or loss, preparation is very difficult and sometimes not a possibility, however being able to control certain parts of the change will always be a good method for coping. This does not mean that you need to try to take control of the whole situation but this does lead back to acknowledging your feelings and taking time to understand how you truly feel about the situation. When you can fully understand how you feel, you can begin to take back control of your own emotions. You may not be able to control the situations that have bought on the change in your life, but most of the time you can control how you respond to it. 

When a transition in life becomes very stressful or overwhelming it is sometimes difficult to relax or feel positive. If the change is out of your control, accept that it is out of your control and spend some time focusing on the positive aspects of that change. View the transition as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather then as a setback. This will distract your mind from the negatives of the situation and help you celebrate the positives, no matter how small. When a change is difficult to go through, the positive aspects of the situation might not be obvious to begin with, however it is worth seeking them out. Focusing on the positives will also help to relax the mind as well as avoid the stress of a drastic change. 

Without change, our lives would be in an endless loop of the same routines. You may not always be seeking change, but when it does appear you should embrace it, because no one's life ever stands completely still. The world is constantly evolving, and you change with it. Material possessions come and go, friends enter your life and leave, careers involve turning points, no one ever gets through life without some type of change. If you worry about all of the changes that are happening around you, you begin to lose your ability to enjoy the moments and experience them in their entirety. Constantly worrying doesn't make you feel more confident or give you the ability to predict the future changes in your life. Change is simply inevitable, so when it happens don't fight it, embrace it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Struggling to Sleep? Part 2

For some, falling asleep can be one of the easiest things in the world, however, there are many of us who struggle to close our eyes at the end of a long day. Difficulty in falling asleep is not unheard of and I have even written a post about it previously. Although it is common, there is not always a single solution to the problem, sometimes multiple methods are needed to achieve that great nights sleep until eventually it becomes a second nature to ease yourself into that slumber. 

  • Sleep at regular times:

One of the first methods that can overtime help with sleeping easier is to sleep and wake up at regular times. Keeping regular sleeping hours will programme the brain and the internal body clock to get used to a set routine. This could mean that you might need to say goodbye to those long lye-ins, however the benefit that this will have on your sleeping pattern will mean that in time you will wake up feeling much more refreshed and awake. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a night. so setting yourself a regular bedtime schedule will allow for you to monitor your sleeping patterns much more accurately and overall improve your ability to fall asleep easily.

  • Wind down:

Do you ever find yourself getting into bed and still feeling full of energy? Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed and there are many ways to relax before going to sleep that will not only help you fall asleep, but will also help to relieve stress and anxiety before bed. Start with a warm bath to help your body reach a temperature that is more idea for sleep, this bath should not be hot as this will cause your body temperature to fluctuate too much and will encourage a more restless nights sleep. A warm bath will help to relax your muscles and will introduce feelings of comfort and security which will further promote a more rewarding sleep.

If a warm bath is not your forte then relaxation exercises are another effective option. Light yoga stretches help to relax the muscles and release energy. Yoga has a brilliant effect on the body in regards to strength and overall fitness but it can also help to ease the mind of stress and aid sleep. Although it is an incredibly effective method for encouraging sleep, try to avoid exercising for too long or too vigorously as it will have the opposite effect with the release of endorphins that will bring forward more energy and alertness.

Relaxation CD's are a great tool for sending you to sleep, however if you struggle to fall asleep with noise then you can use gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to calm you as you are preparing for bed, by doing this you will be able to distract your mind from worry and simply relax as the day draws to an end. Reading a book or listening to the radio also has a similar effect as it allows for you to focus on one thing and helps to declutter the mind. Another method for decluttering the mind before bed is to write down a "To Do" list, this helps to organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions before sleep.

  • Reflect:

Rewind your day. What was the last thing that you done before getting into bed? What about before that? Remembering the details of the day in reverse order clears the mind of worries and helps to recall the importance of certain moments. Reflecting on the day helps to put everything into perspective and organise your thoughts, this will allow for a clearer mind before bed which in turn will improve your mental state during sleep. 

  • Make your bedroom sleep friendly:

Your bedroom should be a comfortable and relaxing place. Your mind reacts to your environment and if you are sleeping in a room that is distracting then you will become restless. TV's, phones, light, noise or even uncomfortable bedding will all effect sleep. Light from electronic devices or outside lights can greatly effect sleep as it reduces the amount of melatonin produced by the body, this is a hormone that facilitates sleepiness. When there is a light it encourages the mind to become more alert as it is a distraction for the mind and mimics daylight.

If you do not have thick curtains, you should invest. They will keep out any light that could negatively impact on your sleep as well as help to regulate the temperature in the bedroom by creating a slight insulation around the window. By keeping a regular temperature in the room you will be able to have a much more comfortable sleep as your body heat will not fluctuate and cause restlessness. 

Finally, keep your bedroom tidy. A cluttered room encourages a cluttered mind and keeping a tidy bedroom will help to calm the mind before sleep. Tripping over things to get to the bed can be incredibly stressful and will not have a positive impact when trying to fall asleep, so keeping the bedroom clean can greatly improve the simplicity of falling asleep. This does not mean that the bedroom needs to be pristine at all times, it naturally helps to get ready for bed without stepping on and over a variety of obstacles.

  • Pillow placement:

A pillow does not need to be exclusively used under your head. There are many benefits to using a pillow to support other parts of the body whilst sleeping, not only can it make you more comfortable which will improve the sleep, but it can also help to alleviate stress from areas of the body. For example, when lying on your side, place a pillow between your legs. This will position the leg so that it doesn't pull the hip or put stress on the spine. When lying on your back, a pillow can be placed beneath the knees to help sink the back into the mattress and encourage further relaxation through the entire body. 

  • Contact your doctor:

If sleep becomes too difficult to attain, you may need to consult with your GP. Sleep is an incredibly important factor of our mental and physical health and it is important to have an understanding of wether or not your difficulty with sleeping is simply a short term issue or if it is a result of a medical condition. 

Everyone deserves a good nights sleep and there are always ways to attain one. For some it is very easy but for a great deal of people it takes a lot of work to achieve an appropriate measure of sleep. With these techniques and possibly with the addition of exercise, healthy eating and meditation, sleep will no longer be an ambition but an achievement that it painless and effortless to accomplish.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Relieve Stress and Anger

Anger and stress are the little monsters that sit on your shoulder, telling you to be more negative, encouraging you to act out and snap. It can be a seemingly uncontrollable force that impacts on your emotional state and your general wellbeing, however there are a few methods that can be used to relieve stress and anger as well as minimise the effects that anger and stress have on you both short term and long term.

One of the first things that can relieve stress is preparation. When you prepare you can anticipate. Preparation for the next day or the next few days can greatly reduce stress because the activities and tasks have already been planned out and sorted before completion which will make them much less daunting and stressful. When you are able to prepare you can relax because there is no need to worry about the upcoming tasks or even human error such as forgetfulness. Make lists, focus and organise to be fully prepared. You will have a sense that you are in control of the situation and can handle much more than you initially thought you could.

Remove the word 'why' from your vocabulary and thoughts. Why is a winey word, it holds us into the past negative and holds us to self sabotage. Why am I failing? Why am I so stressed? Blame, blame and blame again, just take control, release why from your thoughts and add 'what and how'. They are practical words that hold us in the present positive. 'What' can you do to make your life better? How can you create a happier future? Notice with these words you are dismissing the past and promoting a more positive outcome for your present and future self. 

On another note, repeat performance can greatly improve stress and can even help to recover from a place of anger because doing almost any routine or repetitive activity can very quickly distract your mind from the negativity and can create a calmer and more enjoyable environment. This also works with the verbal repetition of a word or phrase. Simply reciting a word the represents how you want to feel or a phrase that resinates with you can bring your mind back to the present and abolish the negative thoughts that keep sneaking in.

Focus on one thing at a time. You can't be expected to constantly multitask or you will just burn yourself out. Sometimes doing multiple things at one time is needed however at other times you need to consider what makes you stressed and juggling too many things is definitely a trigger for many people. Step back for a moment, prioritise and then jump back in, this doesn't just work for tasks, it also works in more personal situations as it allows for the situation to be considered more in depth and gives a second for the mind to be put at ease overall.

When you feel yourself getting angry try to identify at least one good thing. If you are angry about a task try to focus on something you have done well or how far you have progressed, if it is anger based on a problem, a mistake or something more personal then look back to a previous success and think about how you got there. Focusing on a positive can help to encourage more positive thoughts and can pull you away from the anger and negativity. Of course there will be times where looking into the past may not resolve things however it is always good to take inspiration and be motivated by your past successes. 

If looking into the past for positivity and relaxation techniques seems a little difficult then consider it savouring. Savouring involves mindfully engaging in thoughts and behaviour that bring forward positivity. One type of savouring is reminiscing where you look into the past, reminiscing is a way to review the past and rekindle positive feelings, it is never used in a negative manner and is always considered a positive and sometimes nostalgic experience. As well as reminiscing you could also try savouring the moment which involves focusing on what you are currently doing and simply enjoying and intensifying the positivity of a current experience. 

Worry can bring on stress and anger, one of the best ways to overcome this is by writing it down or talking about it. Although it may seem easier to deal with problems alone, sometimes the help of someone else or reading back your own writing can really help to put everything into perspective and resolve issues before they have escalated. Taking to someone about your worries is a very effective method for resolving issues and can help to gain some valuable advice from your peers and writing problems down can help for you to take a step back and look at the situation as if you were not involved which will help you resolve any issues in a more effective and efficient manner.

Writing, making music, dancing and painting can release tension and reduce feelings of anger. Get creative! Even if you see yourself as a not very creative person, there is always going to be something that you are good at and creative methods to undertake to achieve a successful outcome. Creativity can be such a powerful thing.

If creative methods are not your forte then you can bring down your general stress levels that lead to anger with exercise and relaxation. Exercise is a great way to release unwanted energy and when it is worked into your daily life, even just walking to the shops, it can help to reduce stress by releasing endorphins that promote positive emotions as well as improve your health in general. By using exercise as a stress and anger relief you will be able to control it much more effectively and when you can control stress, it can no longer control you.

Another great way to relieve stress and anger is physical interaction. Simply giving someone a hug can help to relax and control emotions as well as promote a more trustworthy and compassionate atmosphere. A hug can completely alter your state of mind and can make you go from angry to calm in a few seconds. Obviously not every issue is resolved with a cuddle but it is a great quick fix for something that might have been blown out of proportion or even for someone who is overwhelmed and just needs some comfort. 

One of the most important things that you can do to relieve stress and anger is to look after yourself! Drugs and alcohol can make anger problems much worse as they lower inhibitions and can cause us to act out when we are angry, if this is an issue then there are many support groups and services available that can really help you. Your mental health is also a very important part of keeping yourself immune to stress and anger, exercise is a great help however meditation is also very effective as it allows for you to clear your mind and focus on one thing at a time. Just like the physical side of this, there are many support groups and services that can help control stress and anger as well as helping you understand the workings of your mind.

Another part of looking after yourself is learning how to self sooth. We have a built in fight or flight response that is intended to help us escape a threat, however anxiety, stress and anger can all trigger this response which is then an unnecessary and very uncomfortable situation. To fight this response you can self sooth by doing breathing exercises, talking more positively about yourself, changing your perspective and meditation. All of these methods can help to clear your mind and allow for you to gain control of your stress and anger. 

To control your anger you first need to understand your anger. Think about your anger signs. Your heart beats faster, you clench your fists, you breathe more quickly and you gain tension in your shoulders? These are all recognisable signs of anger and if you notice these signs you should get out of the situation and re-assess. As well as this you need to think about what triggers your stress and anger, it could be anything but as long as you know what it is you can control your reaction to it.

Finally, remember that this will pass. The most important step towards overcoming negative feelings that lead to stress and anger is to recognise that you are experiencing a very common emotional state that many others have gone through and have successfully overcome. Although it is uncomfortable, the negative feelings will pass. Fighting this can sometimes not have an effect and occasionally accepting that you are feeling this way helps for the mind and the body to recover and relax.

Services and Support Groups: