How to get out of the lockdown blues

Yet another lockdown has been announced and I can almost hear all the many desperate voices saying “Oh no, not again!” Even though I expected this announcement, I admit that I noticed an immediate blow to my mood, a sinking feeling, worries coming up regarding my business, my clients and loved ones and I just needed a day or so to gather my thoughts and process upcoming feelings.

I’ve recently noticed that I’m not my usual happy self and feel a bit out of balance, so now I’m making an extra effort to look after myself, my mental health and emotional balance. Luckily, I’ve got all the knowledge and tools to help myself and others and have, in fact, been teaching them for years. Now, that I’m feeling much better, I thought I’d share a few tips that helped me to get out of the lockdown blues! Perhaps this will help you too!
Try my alphabetic ABCDEFGHIJ approach! Here is the short version of my favourite ten tips:

1. Acceptance is the key! Denial, distraction or ignoring a situation and especially our feelings towards it is not going to help. My motto is ”accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept!”. So, I can’t change this lockdown but I CAN change how I feel about it. After allowing myself a bit of time to accept, acknowledge and feel the feeling, I then move on, tap or dance it away.

2. Deep focused breathing is one of the best ways to regain calmness and balance. I love 7-11 breathing and heart-centred breathing. These wonderful exercises certainly help me feel better whenever I’m not at ease. If you’re not familiar with them, then just take a few minutes and focus on your breath, perhaps count to five or six with each in- and outbreath and observe the movement of your body. Most negative feelings put us into fight or flight, which means we can’t think clearly and might tend to catastrophise. Yet calm deep breathing takes us out of this cycle, helps us relax and get our positive brain power back. Do this regularly or whenever you feel anxious, sad or stressed.

3. Reach out and connect to others. A sense of connection is an innate basic need that we all have because we are social beings. This is not the time to crawl into a cave and wait until this is all over. You’re not alone and not meant to be. Let us all reach out to one another, talk to our loved ones, set up video calling, a WhatsApp group and share precious moments even if it’s in a socially distant or digital way.

4. Dance all your worries away! Nothing lifts my mood as much as putting on some of my favourite music and dance around my living room, normally only when I’m alone. I know it sounds crazy and it might take a few minutes to get into it but try it and perhaps get the whole family involved. I have friends who’d make a zoom party out of this.

5. Use EFT tapping! I love using EFT to tap on any negative feelings and released them. So, I label the feeling, focus on where it sits in my body, I measure its intensity on a scale from 1-10 to get clarity and then I say out loud “Even though this situation makes me feel …., I accept how I feel right now” and I tap through the points until I feel better.

6. Have some fun! I know it’s hard when you’re feeling a bit down but think of the things you enjoyed as a child. Be creative, use your imagination! It could be as simple as dressing up as someone else, find your old skipping rope, make a collage, watch your favourite film, eat your favourite food, bake a cake, write a story, dye your hair, repot your plants, dance in your living room…. The list is endless!

7. Focus on gratitude and count your blessings! If you get caught up in negative thinking, just say “stop!” Thoughts can spiral but we have the power to intervene. We can choose our thoughts consciously. By counting your blessings or naming at least five things you’re grateful for, you can shift your thinking from negative to positive. Start a gratitude list and add more items every day, put it on your fridge or above your desk and read it often to remind yourself of all the good things in your life.

8. Have a hug! The lack of human touch can have such a negative impact on our mental health. I know we need to accept the social distancing rules but if you have people in your household or social bubble, make sure you hug them and receive one in return, provided it feels safe! If it doesn’t hug yourself, hug a cushion or a teddy bear and close your eyes while imagining it’s a loved one or offer to take a neighbours dog out for a walk and pet the dog and play with him.

9. Use your imagination! Our minds are more powerful than we know. We can conjure up positive and negative images which then affect our mood. So why not use the lockdown to engage in some daydreaming or imagine a few wonderful scenarios that will make you happy. The aim is to feel good!

10. Do more of what brings you joy. This is in line with number six above. We can’t change the past, we don’t know what the future will bring, we just have this moment right now, so why not conjure up a few moments of joy, even if it’s just sharing your favourite anecdotes or jokes with someone or your diary.

Just to let you know, I’m at your service and love to help and inspire others. I’m available for online sessions and have a number of online products available. Feel free to get in touch.

Lots of love,

Sandy x

The power of self-care and self -love

Nurturing yourself is important, especially in times of uncertainty. When the outside world seems crazy, turn inside. You’re a wonderful human being, who’s doing the best they can, given the current circumstances. Acknowledge how well you’ve done, how difficult it perhaps has been. Give yourself a hug and a pad on the shoulder. Life’s never been more different and unusual. We’ve been bombarded with lots of change, new rules and have been fed fear-producing messages. So, if you’ve been feeling a bit anxious, worried or just unusually tired, that’s absolutely normal. Many of us are a bit out of balance these days, trying to cope with the new situation and perhaps feeling a bit insecure about it all, or even overwhelmed. Yet one thing we often take for granted is ourselves. We expect ourselves to just adjust overnight, cope with anything thrown at us and deal with people around us, who are struggling, while we might be internally struggling too. I believe it’s important to acknowledge how we feel and become aware of our own needs too. Self-care and self-love are important and should not be forgotten. These last few months have been strange, and you’ve made it through! So, give yourself a big fat WELL DONE!

Wouldn’t it be nice to make yourself feel cared for and appreciated? Why not take a moment to thank your wonderful body, your brain with its amazing capacity to learn new things and your mind and psyche with its ability to generate a wide spectrum of emotions! Be nice to yourself and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of all the many good qualities you have. Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Switch to positive feelings and give yourself some love and appreciation. You deserve it!

A great tool that I highly recommend is doing daily affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements. Louise Hay, the queen of affirmations, wrote lots of books about the topic. Starting with that first thing in the morning is a great way of setting you up for a positive day. Think of a few things you like about yourself and tell your reflection in the mirror. Or see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. If you need ideas and inspiration, check out this website with new daily affirmations: www.louisehay.com/affirmations/   Today, 30th July says the following: “Today I listen to my feelings, and I am gentle with myself. I know that all of my feelings are my friends.” Wonderful words of wisdom!
Some people prefer their statements expressed as a process, e.g. ‘I’m feeling better and better each day.’ ‘I love myself a bit more every day.’ or ‘I love learning how to relax’. When you become your own best friend, nothing can stop you. It’s worth making a bit of an effort to love yourself more. If you love yourself, the world loves you right back.

Self-care goes hand-in-hand with self-love. It’s about setting boundaries, looking after yourself and taking a bit of ‘me-time’ out whenever possible or appropriate. A dear friend of mine introduced me to the idea of having a duvet morning. I love the concept! Every now and then, I just stay in bed an extra hour in the morning with nice cup of tea and a book, or a notepad if I feel creative, to brainstorm ideas or make my gratitude list for the day. If mornings aren’t possible, how about a duvet evening? There’s plenty of ways to look after ourselves, some people love having a warm bubble bath, chat to a friend, go for a nice long walk, meditate, try out a new recipe, write into a journal, light a candle or engage in crafts. The important bit is to make time to feel good. Even a 2- or 3-minute breathing exercise can help you feel calm and more balanced. Acknowledge that you’ve done enough and you are enough! Feeling loved and appreciated is an inside job. I hope this short article has inspired you. Love and light. Sandy

How to overcome fear

Experiencing a bit of fear every now and then is a healthy response aimed to keep us safe. In Corona times right now, fear can be a natural response as it just doesn’t feel safe for some of us to go outside and meet others. But staying inside the whole time and hiding away from the world is not a solution. After all, we are social beings and need a certain amount of connection to others. We also benefit from fresh air, regular walks and sunshine. So what to do? Courage is the best antidote to fear while of course sticking to the guidelines, keeping your distance and perhaps wearing a mask. Rather than focusing on what might go wrong, take a reality check. 90% of the things we worry about never happen, so why not focus on all the things that might go right? Focus on the benefits of conquering your fear, whatever it might be. Get out of your comfort zone and find a glimpse of happiness in uncertainty.

Think how great you will fear once you’ve conquered your fear! How will life be different? Focusing on a positive outcome increases the likelihood of positive things happening. Be your own best friend and give yourself a mental pep talk or imagine what a supportive person in your life would say to encourage you to conquer your fear.

If you need to calm your nerves first, here’s a quick and easy tool: Breathe in slowly while counting to 6, then let go of the air slowly while counting to 6. Repeat several times and watch the breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your chest and belly expand, perhaps put your hands on your body to feel this movement.

Some people may need healing on a deeper level, for example to overcome trauma, phobias or panic attacks. Holistic approaches like energy psychology are powerful tools to conquer these issues. I’ve seen the most amazing changes in my clients. Don’t let your fear imprison you, set yourself free and start enjoying life. Turn your fear into action. Like Winston Churchill said: ‘Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision’.

Gratitude

There’s no question that these are strange times and life as we knew it has changed. Change can be scary, especially when it affects our sense of safety and control and leaves us with uncertainty about the future. This can really get us out of balance and that’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s especially important now to look after ourselves, acknowledge our feelings and thoughts but make sure we don’t get carried away with them. EFT tapping is a great tool to deal with any uncomfortable feelings. If you’re unfamiliar with EFT, just try one of my breathing exercises. Take a few really deep breaths and count to 5 or 6 while you breathe in and again to 5 or 6 while you breathe out. That’s a great little shortcut to help your nervous system to calm down.

Once calmer, I recommend to count your blessings. Seriously, make a list and write down at least 7-10 things that you’re grateful for. That read that list every day and add to it. We can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time, so choose your focus. Look at gratitude. There’s always something to be grateful for, even if it’s just the weather, the fact that you have shelter and food in the fridge or great past memories.

Gratitude is powerful and when applied on a regular basis, you’ll soon find more things to be grateful for and gradually train your mind to focus on the positive things in your life. It’ll make a great difference in how you feel. Have fun with it. Take care. Thanks for you reading.

Sandy x

How to switch your focus from anxiety to calmness

These are difficult times and not being able to see friends and family, the current uncertainty about the future mixed with fearful messages from the media can really have an impact on somebody’s mental health. Now it’s especially important to look after ourselves and for some it might be easier as long commutes are not on the agenda at the moment and working from home or not working at all free up time and hopefully provides comfort. So we’re trying to find the balance between what’s worse right now, getting used to what’s different and be happy about what’s better.

Our mind is such a powerful tool yet it’s important to feed it the right messages and take control. There was once a story about two wolves, an old legend of unknown origin. It’s the tale of the fight between two wolves we all have insight of us representing our inner conflicts. One wolf is evil full of anger, jealousy, self-pity, regrets, arrogance and laziness while the other, the good one, is filled with joy, empathy, peace, courage, faith and generosity. The question is asked which of these fighting wolves would win the battle and after reflection the answer is revealed: The one you feed.

Free photo 88039025 © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com

So which one are you feeding? Are you spending time complaining how bad it is or are you actively seeking to find the opportunities in the current situation? Are you taking time to look after yourself and embrace new hobbies, habits and connecting to others perhaps via technology? Or are you hiding in your ‘cave’ waiting for the storm to blow over? The important bit is that we all have a choice which wolf we feed and the one we feed will be growing and becoming stronger.

I know this is a very simplistic point of view and things aren’t usually just black or white but I like the message behind it as we can only focus on one emotion at a time, we can’t be happy and sad at the same time and even if we’re sad we can switch our focus to something else, someone we love, for example and the feelings will change and follow our thoughts.

Sometimes, however, we can get stuck in a negative emotion, such as anxiety and find it hard to switch and get out. If changing your thoughts doesn’t change, then give your body a break and use both your body and your mind to find a bit of peace. When body and mind work together, anything is possible. So here’s a quick and easy 5-10 minute relaxation exercise to get from anxiety to calmness:

Sit somewhere quiet and comfortably. Focus on your breath, observe it for a minute, then start counting. Count to five or six while you breathe in and to five or six while you breathe out. Do this for a few minutes. Then start daydreaming. Think of a lovely safe place where you can relax, perhaps a beach or a forest you know. Build it up with your inner eye and notice the colours, sounds and smells. Then imagine going for a stroll there while taking in the calmness of that place. Do this for a couple of minutes or so before coming back. Notice the difference in how you feel. Repeat regularly.

Try it out, really, how about now? Don’t postpone or delay. If appropriate, do it now for a few minutes! If it works teach it to someone else. If everyone did take a 5-minute break like this every day, we’d all be much calmer and happier.

Stay safe. Big hug. Love and light.

Sandy x

How to embrace your emotions

Feelings, especially on the negative spectrum, can be overwhelming, distracting, even numbing. Often, we just don’t have time to deal with them, so we turn to food, drinks, TV, work, etc. Moreover, society has taught us to swallow and smile and pretend everything is ok, but repressing our emotions can lead to further problems. Emotions have energy behind them and they can build up and cause problems later.

For example, we might get to the point when we just can’t take it anymore and explode, which affects the people around us and often leads to tensions and regret. Sometimes even physical problems can manifest as a result of unexpressed emotions. Repressing anything (or anyone) does never work in the long run as it builds up pressure and tension. What would happen to a pressure cooker without a valve to release the steam?

Now, so how can I become more aware of my emotions and learn to release them in a safe way? Well, the first step is to connect to our body, notice how it feels and acknowledge those feelings. Some people like writing down what bothers them, work off anger in the gym or tell a friend about it. Personally, I’m a big fan of breathing techniques, which help to let go of the energy behind the emotion. For instance, focus on a particular feeling (or a person that triggers a negative feeling) and breathe it out (long and slowly), then imagine breathing in (long and slowly) something positive, such as the energy of peace, forgiveness, calmness, etc. Then with the outbreath, let go of the old negative emotion, followed by breathing in the positive. Visualise it, connect to it and focus on it for several minutes. Notice how much better you feel after 5 minutes, not to mention that the additional oxygen helps you think more clearly.

A second very effective technique for deep emotional healing is EFT tapping. EFT is a nice blend of ancient wisdom like traditional Chinese medicine and modern psychology. We tap on certain meridian points which are part of our energy system while focusing on the particular distress and verbalising it, this helps shifting and releasing the energy of it. If you’re new to EFT, perhaps work with a practitioner or join a group.

If you’re out or at work and unable to “escape” to try out these techniques or you’re not ready to face it just yet, then perhaps try a different approach. Find something funny on the internet and laugh it off. Laughter releases tensions and endorphins and is a great quick fix if needed.

Or be mindful and shift your focus to the little things in life that bring us joy and pleasure, such as sunshine, a cup of coffee, a smile, green traffic lights, having friends, a hug, cuddle a pillow, person or pet. Well you get the idea. This is however, just a temporary fix. Sooner or later you might have to face your feelings and let off steam in a safe way. After all, we are all human beings and feelings are part of our deepest humanity.

Have a great day. Love, light and angel blessings.
Sandy

How to turn challenges into blessings

Is it really June 2017 already? Wow, how did that happen? When you look back at this year so far, can you see how much has changed? Or is it just me 😉 Change is the only thing that never changes. Change is natural, change is beautiful, some resist it, some embrace, some fear it, some call it challenges but it’s actually just change. And, we influence it: we can choose our reaction to it, we can welcome it rather than cursing it. We can believe that things will all work themselves out eventually. Most challenges turn into blessings. We see them as challenges because we haven’t found the lesson in them yet. Everything in life has two sides, look out for the positive in any change that happens. Start by being grateful. Affirm that everything happens for a reason.

the power of gratitude

You and your life will continue to change. If you start counting your blessings, you can direct that change, influence it and become it. A grateful person is a happy person. You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. Look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.

look for something positive

Set yourself reminders to do this, perhaps on your phone or have visual reminders around your workplace or home. Stop every couple of hours, take a few deep breaths and find something to appreciate about yourself, your day, the people around you or whatever comes to mind. This not only helps to reduce stress but also provides you with energy. Positive people are generally happier, healthier and more vibrant. Look for the blessing in every so-called challenge and turn it into an opportunity. By focusing on positive things, your mood will be much better and you might just stumble over a solution, yet you have to be calm and solution-focused for this to happen.

Finally, if you want to consciously change your life for the better, forget about your to-do list every now and then, leave the cleaning, tidying and many other chores for another day and do more of what makes you happy. Your children, friends and family would surely prefer a happier you over a clean house. Be happy, spread hope, enjoy the moment, that’s what people will remember about you. To turn a challenge into a blessing, start by seeing it as one and if you can’t, just let it go for a moment and find your inner strength and happiness by doing more of what makes you happy.

what makes you happy

Happy summer time.

Love and light,

Sandy

How to conquer fear

Experiencing a bit of fear every now and then is a healthy response aimed to keep us safe. Learning something new can make us uncomfortable at first as it takes us out of our comfort zone. Doing new things makes life more interesting though and leads to growth. Courage is the best antidote to fear. Rather than focusing on what might go wrong, take a reality check. 90% of the things we worry about never happen, so why not focus on all the things that might go right? Think how great you will feel once you’ve conquered your fear? How will life be different? Who would be the first person to notice those changes? Focusing on a positive outcome increases the likelihood of positive things happening. Be your own best friend and give yourself a mental pep talk or imagine what a supportive person in your life would say to encourage you to conquer your fear.

fear-vs-courage

Did you know that you can choose your thoughts? So choose the ones that help you, not ones that drag you down. Easier said than done? Well, here’s a short cut: stop thinking for a moment and focus on positive FEELINGS! Who do you love most in life? What does this love feel like? Stay with that feeling for a couple of minutes and watch the changes in your body. Another great way to conquer fear is to focus on your breathing! Breathe in slowly while counting to 6, then let go of the air slowly while counting to 6. Repeat several times and ‘watch’ the breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your chest and belly expand, perhaps put your hands on your body to feel this movement. These two simple techniques help to become present and to focus on the here and now. They work wonders before important meetings, job interviews, presentations or to calm down fearful worries.

fear into action

Some people may need healing on a deeper level, for example to overcome trauma, phobias or panic attacks. EFT tapping and Hypnotherapy are powerful tools to conquer these issues. These and other modalities are offered by a variety of practitioners (myself included). I’ve seen the most amazing changes in my clients. Don’t let your fear imprison you, set yourself free and start enjoying life. Turn your fear into action. Like Winston Churchill said: ‘Courage is a decision’. Take your power back now!

courage is a decision

I’d love to hear if you’ve found this post helpful and look forward to reading your comments.

All the best,

Sandy

How to reduce anxiety in less than 5 minutes

Stress and anxiety are buzz words nowadays. Everyone is just rushing around, being busy with being busy and having a million things on the to-do list. Many have not enough time to relax and look after themselves, especially women who always seem to care and look after everyone else and don’t get enough time for themselves. Yet just like a car can’t run at 100 miles an hour all the time without stopping to refuel, so do we need to stop regularly and look after (refuel) ourselves. People who don’t take time to look after their health will HAVE TO take time later to look after their illness. Which way are you heading?

relax-stress

The good news is that refueling doesn’t have to take ages. A day at the Spa sounds very appealing but many have neither the time nor the money for such a treat. Here is a very simple tool that you can surely fit even into the busiest schedule and you can do it anytime, anywhere. It is a breathing technique called 7/11 breathing. This is how it works: take a deep slow breath in while counting to 7, fill your belly and lungs with air, then breathe out even more slowly while counting to 11, notice how your belly and chest slowly release the air. Repeat several times: breathe in to 7 and out to the count of 11. If 7 and 11 feel too long, adjust the numbers to your own pace and capacity. The important part is to breathe more slowly and to breathe out for at least 2 counts longer than you breathe in. Doing this for a few minutes switches your body from the sympathetic nervous system (stress mode) to the parasympathetic nervous system (relax mode). Seriously try it right now for at least 2-3 minutes and watch your anxiety melt away…

breath

This techniques puts you back in touch with your body. The counting engages your mind and the combination of counting and watching your breath helps you become present and be in the moment. Too often we spend too much time thinking about the past or planning our future. Right in this moment, we are ok, right now we don’t have to find a solution to all of our problems. Just for this short moment we can start anew as in every breath there is a new opportunity. Once we calm down and release the stress we get access to our intuition, can think more clearly and often become aware of the most amazing ideas and solutions that have been in us all along. All it takes is a bit of breathing, allowing your body and mind to relax. Do this regularly and see what happens. I recommend doing this exercise several times a day, even if it’s just for a minute or two each time. It reduces stress and anxiety, quietens the mind, helps you sleep better, provides your brain with more oxygen, cuts off the constant noise in our head, especially that critical voice that many of us have and puts us back in touch with our own resources. Enjoy!

breath-tiger

If you found this helpful, please share and/or leave a comment. If you’re interested in finding out more about this topic, join my next workshop on 25th March in Brighton:

Release stress and anxiety2

 

How to embrace your emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly

Feelings, especially on the negative spectrum, can be overwhelming, distracting, even numbing. Often we just don’t have time to deal with them, so we turn to food, drinks, TV, work, etc. Moreover, society has taught us to swallow and smile and pretend everything is ok, but repressing our emotions can lead to further problems. Emotions have energy behind them and they can build up and cause problems later. For example, we might get to the point when we just can’t take it anymore and explode, which affects the people around us and often leads to tensions and regret. Sometimes even physical problems can manifest as a result of unexpressed emotions. Repressing anything (or anyone) does never work in the long run as it builds up pressure and tension. Instead, we could reconnect to our body, see how it feels and let out what doesn’t serve us. After all, we are all human beings with feelings so let’s embrace our emotions and our deepest humanity.

Embrace all feelings

The questions arises, how to do that safely, without snapping at people around us or crying uncontrollably in public. I’m NOT suggesting that. Yet, we can start by acknowledging how we feel and stop the distraction. Personally, I’m a big fan of breathing techniques, which help to let go of the energy behind the emotion. For instance, focus on a particular feeling (or a person that triggers a negative feeling) and breathe it out (long and slowly), then imagine breathing in (long and slowly) something positive, such as the energy of peace, forgiveness, calmness, etc. Then with the outbreath, let go of the old negative emotion, followed by breathing in the positive. Visualise it, connect to it and focus on it for several minutes. Notice how much better you feel after 5 minutes, not to mention that the additional oxygen helps you think more clearly.
A second very effective technique for deeper emotional challenges is EFT tapping.

Tap on the meridian points which are part of our energy system (as in Traditional Chinese Medicine – Acupuncture points) while focusing on the particular distress. If you’re new to EFT, perhaps work with a practitioner or join a group. If you’re based in Brighton, Southeast England, you can join the weekly emotional balance group (Time Out Tuesday) starting soon.

The key is to become present and connect to your body, acknowledge how you feel and find a safe way to let go of those emotions. Doing this regularly will increase your wellbeing. You’ll become lighter, happier and more balanced. Free yourself and find your inner balance.
Love and light,
Sandy

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