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

Am I really depressed, or could I just be an introvert?

In a world where the majority of people (apparently two thirds) are extroverts, there are certain unspoken expectations of how to fit in and how to ‘be normal’. For example, we should see friends and family regularly, always go out when asked, engage in active hobbies and continuous professional development, support good causes, be successful, do exciting things and ideally let the world know about it by posting pictures and status updates on social media.

For extroverts this might not be a problem as many of them like being around others and don’t usually mind the general busyness and noise of modern life whereas introverts, on the other hand do! Working all day, commuting and the feeling that we then should also fill our leisure time with exciting things, tasks and people can be overwhelming, although I guess to a certain extent that is true for everyone. Perhaps extroverts just generally cope better with being busy, having full schedules and long to-do-lists and somehow still seem to find the energy to have a great social life too.

Introverts may just need more time alone, they may not want to be out and about all the time,  communicate with everyone constantly about what’s going on in their life or simply do lots of different things. They like to retreat, have time to think and process events of the day, need peace and quiet to balance out all the noises, pressures and expectations they encountered. And that is totally okay! We’re all different and both introverts AND extroverts are needed and valuable.

Introverts might get fed the feeling that something is wrong with them, if they need a break from it all every now and then. Questions might pop up around them like “Where have you been?” “Why aren’t you coming out with us?” “You’re so quiet, is everything ok?” “Did you get my text?.” etc. The unspoken label ‘depression’ may occasionally float around but are people who need some alone time and don’t feel up for talks, events and gatherings really depressed?

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m neither downplaying depression nor am I suggesting that introvert people come across as depressed. It’s just that in my experience as a holistic health practitioner I’ve come across a number of clients who diagnosed themselves and thought they had some sort of mild depression, many of whom turned out to ‘just’ be introverts with no mental health problem whatsoever. So, I thought I’d write about it as I guess it can be quite a relief for anyone doubting themselves.

You don’t have to bend over backwards to fit in. It’s okay to be who you are, it’s okay to miss out on an evening with friends, it’s okay to stay in and take time out for yourself. In fact, if you feel you need it, it’s necessary! It’s important to respect our own needs and if alone time is what we need, then let’s take it. It helps to recharge our batteries and only if we look after ourselves, can we also look after others, plus if you have kids, you set a great example in showing them the importance of self-care.

Now, I’m not advocating to become a hermit. If someone is losing interest and enjoyment, feels in a depressed mood for an extended period of time, experiences increased fatigue or loss of energy, has disturbed appetite and/or sleep problems and engages in pessimistic views of the future, there might be an element of depression and getting support would be advisable. The IDC-10 (meaning: international classification of diseases 10th edition) is often used as a model for diagnosis and can be helpful. I’ve worked with a lot of clients to help them get out of their ‘down period’ and there’s lots of wonderful tools to help with that, such as Solution-focused psychotherapy and hypnotherapy and EFT.

Yet simply being introspective, reflective and observing, enjoying a bit of alone time, having quiet hobbies, not joining every social event or being a bit under the weather every now and then does not mean depression! These are qualities of introverts and it’s important to respect them in order NOT to get depressed in the future because by not getting our emotional needs met, we are more prone to mental health problems. So, take a break to daydream if you need to. Take time out for yourself and please respect others who do the same. What about you? Has this blog post been helpful? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks.

How to find happiness

How are you feeling right now? Just stop for a minute and notice how you feel! Connect to your body and your mind….Do it right now….

Awareness is the first step towards change. Too often we’re on autopilot and don’t even notice what’s going on inside of us. By tuning into our body and feelings, we gain awareness. Notice how you feel, name the feeling, name the thought and the emotion behind it. Become aware, watch, observe, become present. Change your focus from outwards to inwards. When we ignore that inner whisper too long, it becomes a scream but by listening and noticing we can turn the volume back down again.

focus your attention
Did you know that you always have a choice? You can choose to pick a thought that makes you feel good. Try it right now. Dwell on a happy memory for a moment or imagine a happy fulfilling future. Keep it positive, inspiring and allow yourself to smile. Focus your attention on calmness, peace and happiness. Feel it from the inside out. Once you’ve done that for a moment, tune into your feelings again. Feeling better? Great! If something/someone upsets you, distract yourself with some positive thoughts, go for a walk and appreciate what you see. You can’t be calm and angry at the same time. The choice is yours. If that doesn’t work, maybe try some EFT tapping to release any negative feelings or whatever works for you. If someone said to you, would you rather be happy or unhappy, what would you say? Well, you’ve got a choice! You can focus your attention and you can choose a thought or a feeling. I, for sure, choose to be happy. Come and join me  ….*singing* ’If you’re happy and you know it….’

Happy summer holidays. I’m still around if you’re intested in a session. Wishing you a wonderful day filled with positive attention, love and happiness.

Sandy

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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