Friday Takeaway!

Whoo hooo! It’s nearly the weekend and that for most of us is the time we look for treats, chill out, let our hair down (that one’s a bit difficult for me 🙂 and spend time with the people we love.

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The danger though is the hard work we may have put into our diets and exercise is at risk from being undone because we have weirdly been conditioned to see treating ourselves a certain way.

The picture of the pie and chips is a prime example of a treat a lot of people will go for tonight. We have been conditioned to believe this is much more attractive than boring old “healthy” food which you may have begrudgingly dipped into throughout the week.

Life changing chocolate bars?

I was watching some adverts this week where they are trying to convince me my life will be more than fulfilled and more exciting by drinking a popular soft drink. My mid week will be sensational by eating battered chicken and I can be even more quirkier and funnier by buying low quality chocolate filled with even lower quality sugared fillers.  I don’t even need to have a hearty breakfast according to one young guy, I can get that in a bottle…*retch

What have we become 😦

Obey, conform, don’t question.

WTF is going on? Seriously?  I’m not denying that carbs filled with sugar and salt can initially taste great but that’s going to be about it. A few mouthfuls later and I’m bored and wondering “why am I doing this to myself?” There’s pretty much no nutrition in this sh*t food and the damage it does with your body is shocking but yet we like to conform to what the junk food companies say we should be eating.  Obey the adverts people and just eat…

Sexy Salad?

When was the last time you saw salad being sexed up to entice you to think of it differently?  (the aubergine emoji doesn’t count btw).  Healthy food has a serious PR problem and junk food is winning the war in that respects as it’s brainwashed the masses to believe their cr*p is the exciting, life enhancing and tastier product.  Add a few sexy people chowing down on it and we want what they have as the PR machine of life says “these are the hot, sexy people you should all be emulating. If you don’t, you are a failure.”

This is also feeding the obesity problem massively as a plate of pie and chips won’t actually feed your body, it just blocks up your gut.  Malnutrition is becoming too common as people caught up in a cycle of over feeding to try and get nutrition into the body but their cravings for salt and sugar lead to choices which simply won’t do that.  I don’t even need to tell them what to eat instead to get their health back, these are intelligent people but sadly their conditioning means that eating healthy food is boring and hard work whilst junk is so much more fun and easier and after a hard week…it’s their treat.

Itsu lovely

I went to Itsu today, that for me is my Friday ritual and you get some great tasty food which actually does “feed you.”  That for  me is a real treat, there are so many flavours to dip into and it costs around the same as the pie and chips.  I felt full and satisfied and I won’t have to battle any guilt for ruining the hard work I am putting into my health and fitness program. There’s a Leon a few steps away too which is much better than junk or a bland beige sandwich.  What are you worth and does your food represent that?

Monday Diet Day?

Eating well over the weekend makes a huge difference to your mental and physical health.  You can’t put a price on what it’s like to start Monday feeling refreshed from your weekend.  Feeling fat, bloated and hungover makes your week much harder than it need be. In all honesty, life’s hard enough as it is without being tricked into believing cr*p food will make your life more exciting and amazing.

What is funny is how many people start diets on Mondays after binging all weekend which dooms it to failure as they feel so low in energy it doesn’t take long to reach for the treats causing the problem in the first place.

Don’t question me!

The food industry actually lobbies government to make sure no laws come into play which impact too much on their brainwashing. The sugar lobby is very powerful in making sure you get your fix and won’t tolerate any moves to hold it back.

Your choice is whether you continuing to conform or not or break out and devalue this sh*t food for something that is worth your time and hard earned money.

End the battle

Therapists like myself can help explore your conditioning and help decrease the value of the food which doesn’t feed you and increase the value of food which will.  What’s great about that is that I eat what I want and what I tend to want more often is great, tasty and healthy food. There’s no diet to battle and I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything at all.  My advice is to stop dieting as that is just doomed to fail and feels miserable. Learn to change your food habits so there is no battle, nothing to fail and will make you more aware of your conditioning so you choose your food instead of wandering like the Walking Dead to the beige boring old takeaway.

 

 

Drop your Chores!

I may be lucky enough to live by the sea but that means nothing unless I make the time to go and experience the beach and seafront.  The same goes for the countryside, parks, rivers, lakes and areas of beauty which can be very easily taken for granted.

The effect on the mind being in areas of beauty is a powerful one and even taking a 10 minute break to get some air can make a huge difference to your mental health.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and there’s not an actual lot to focus on when sat looking out to sea. The same goes for the countryside too, whilst it’s beautiful there’s very little information compared to a city to stimulate the mind so it can take a bit of a break from being overstimulated by our busy lifestyles.

Panic!

I can see some clients begin to panic when asked about making time to be outside as their productivity levels will drop by taking some time out.  Yet their brains and yours benefit so much from investing in mental health, the results tend to be more clarity, focus and much better productivity in the areas that matter.

Procrastination tends to happen when the mind is tired and tries to conserve energy for “real” emergencies like life or death situations.  Luckily most of us won’t face a life threatening moment today so we can put that energy into investing in quality of life.

Bank

You need to bank energy to spend it and popping out for a walk, eating healthy, exercising, relaxing and having fun are just a few ways to gain energy for those tasks which can feel like hard work.

So drop your chores, get outside for a bit and bank some energy, life’s simply too short not too.

Overload!

I have seen a huge increase lately in clients who are caught in a caffeine trap where they drink it throughout the day to keep alert and “function.” The problem is that they feel they need it as their minds are dulled and foggy from the bad nights sleep and sleeping medication they  try to knock themselves out with.  Yet one part of what’s causing their anxiety and stress is their caffeine habit and so the cycle continues.

You may want to rethink your “afternoon pick me up.”

What’s quite clear is that a lot of people really don’t know how powerful caffeine really is and that it can stop you sleeping and feeling more relaxed. Whilst some of you reading this may raise an eyebrow at what seems like common knowledge, there does need to be better information out there on what this powerful drug can do to your mind and body.

Redbull with your session?

Some clients suffering with anxiety will arrive for sessions clutching coffee and even energy drinks to sip during the session.  At least when I see this we can approach this lifestyle habit which can be changed easily. Just this little change can help someone feel so much better in themselves very quickly.

Did you know?

400 milligrams (mg) of coffee is apparently the limit of a safe amount we can have each day with around 250mg classed as a normal amount.

Some high street double Espresso shots can contain over 220mg.

A high street americano or flat white can contain over 270mg depending where you shop.

A green tea surprisingly can contain around 70mg which is not far from some single shot Espresso’s.

The effects of caffeine can be felt up to 6 hours after drinking it. If you drink a cup 6 hours before bed your sleep time can be reduced by an hour.  It also reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is the deep sleep you need for recuperation.

Caffeine triggers the flight or fight response which during the hyper aroused state can make you more over reactive and stressed. If you are an anxiety sufferer then you have this happening too much already, adding more strain to your brain will cause more problems.

Healthy?

It’s not all bad as there are some health benefits to drinking caffeine such at reduced risk of strokes and oral, throat cancers.  But if you are having mental health issues then assessing and reducing your caffeine intake can help you speed up your recovery.  For some it’s worth reducing and stopping altogether and funnily enough those that have stopped find themselves not lacking in energy at all.

If you feel you are reducing or giving up something wonderful with coffee then yes it will be a bit of a battle. By increasing the value of what you will get from changing this habit can make it so much easier to let go of or alter to suit your circumstances.

Free!

As one client told me that by reassessing their caffeine intake combined with the anxiety management strategies I teach they felt so free. They had much more energy, mental clarity, better sleep and healthier relationships with the people around them as they were much less reactive.

Something which you simply cannot put a price on.

 

 

 

 

 

#BUSY!

#BUSY

Tempting isn’t it? When you are watching the television you could just check your social media, emails, pop onto Amazon or surf the web and flick your attention back and forth from screen to screen.  Some clients admit they have a few screens on at the same time whilst they catch up on various tv shows, they also admit they miss half the program due to their attention being spread thinly and eventually give on on the latest box set as it’s gone from exciting to “something that’s on in the background.” 

We demand way too much from it and then insist it shuts off immediately when we go to bed, for a lot of people that simply isn’t going to happen and sleep disorders are also now on the increase.  Your nervous system if it’s under too much strain repeatedly will tell you there’s a problem and that’s where anxiety, stress and depression can kick in.

Signs of trouble

These can include, worrying, overanalysing, trouble with decision making, memory issues, feeling anxious, sleep issues, low and over reacting.  If these sound familiar then it’s time to take your brain health seriously.

Bombarded

During the day our minds are bombarded with an incredible amount of information, sights, sounds, smells and what we have touched and tasted. It’s amazing that when you add to that our emotional states, thought processes about the past and future and our normal day to day activities on top, it’s a wonder our brains are still able to function with so much going on. It’s a brilliant super computer but it does need your help.

It does function better when we rest it and get a good nights sleep, but with our determination culturally to wear an “i’m super busy” badge of honour, brains are becoming strained and the effects can be devastating

Relax

One thing you can begin to do is to relax in the evening, amazingly even when I mention that to some clients they literally shudder at the thought of not doing something productive.  The value of being busy has somehow become more valuable than a life of quality. When anxiety and stress begin to show it’s often a sign that you need to reassess what you are rushing around and multi tasking for and what else is actually more important?

Give your brain a break

Reduce screen time and multiple screen time as it’s too stimulating and reduces the quality of what your attention could fully be on in that moment.

Alcohol to chill out actually stress’s your body out and reduces sleep quality.

Alcohol also plays havoc with your blood sugar levels which tends to lead to carb overloading and more stress on the body.  Reassess your drinking habits and what it’s really doing to your quality of life.

Get outside, an evening, daytime walk in areas where the scenery doesn’t change much like the countryside or seaside can help reduce pressure on an overstimulated mind.

Caffeine in the late afternoon and evenings overstimulate your nervous system and reduces sleep quality.

Bedrooms are for sex and sleep only, if your bedroom resembles an entertainment centre then how can your mind not associate being stimulated in this place?

Noise pollution is becoming more of a problem, do what you can to minimise sounds around you like turning off the background tv and radio.

Use an app like Headspace which is available for most platforms. It’s a simple and effective way to teach your brain to slow down and take the strain off it.

Focus on one task at a time using strategies like the Pomodoro Technique which is fantastic in helping you develop your concentration skills.

Lastly I would really recommend giving yourself some time to think through your day, worries, achievements and so on.  If you remain busy and distracted all day right up until bedtime then it won’t be a surprise when the thoughts you have not given time for will suddenly pop up and demand your attention.  Even if it’s 15 minutes sat in a room, bath, garden or on the loo, it can be a wonderful tonic for the mind.

Finally

The tips above can really help your brain calm down and strengthen for the really important parts of life you need physical and mental energy for.  If you don’t give yourself time then the price to pay can be huge and what you are doing all for this will be at risk.  Just some simple maintenance and change go bad habits can go a long way but if you do struggle then contact me and we can go from there.

Snap out of it!

Younger me

Despite the smile, I was terrified inside.

When I was younger I avoided any type of therapy and help which would have hopefully tackled my anxiety head on. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep the anxiety, I would have done anything to turn it off but I just felt stupid and weak for not being able to sort it out myself.

Surely I could snap myself out of this couldn’t I?  Just be more positive, man up and just get on with it, what was all this worry nonsense?  In the cold light of day I just felt so powerless and pathetic!

So the battle with negativity continued as I tried my best to control my thoughts and make them more “half glass full instead of empty.”  I shudder now at such an ignorant attitude but it was understandable especially in a society that in general doesn’t understand mental health issues.

In honesty I wasted years naively thinking that seeking help was for the weak and stupid as my anxiety was my own fault and a state of mind I should just snap out of.  

I didn’t know that anxiety was an injury from my past and that seeking help was an act of strength not weakness.  It takes a lot of guts to go and open up to someone about your state of mind and explore healing your anxiety injury which is why you may be fooled into staying in your comfort zone of misery.

Life really is too short not to seek help and explore the options available in improving your quality of life.

Not the f*cking Important

When I had my travel phobia, one of my biggest fears was that people around me would be judging how anxious I looked and wondering “what on earth was wrong with him?”  I would sit there being terrorised by various thoughts and feelings and wondering why I had bothered to even try travelling again.

“What if I was sick in front of them?”  This was accompanied by a wonderful interactive movie involving losing control and vomiting everywhere with faces of disgust and horror.

The end result, only really travelling if necessary and having some very uptight rules to use as a crutch when I had to.

This is known as the “spotlight effect” where my brain tricks me into believing that I am being noticed much more than I am.  It’s a brilliant trick using the freeze, fight or flight response which kept me in a comfort zone. Travel after all is a luxury and and not really needed for my survival and the more I avoided travel the more I reduced my quality of life.

One of the best ways I snapped out of this hypnotic trance was to remind myself of this;

I am not that f*cking important!”

The reality is quite simple, no matter what I want to believe the people around me no matter where I am are simply not interested in judging, criticising or focusing or me. Even if someone did for a brief moment, I am going to be forgotten soon enough as most people are entertaining their own stories for their own lives. 

By uttering that strong and colourful phrase, I start to laugh at my self importance and  work on reversing my anxiety so I can feel calm, relaxed and not the centre of attention.

Here are some common ways our minds use the “too important,” trick by singling you out:

It can increase the chances that out of millions of aeroplane flights today, yours is the special one going to crash. 

When going to a show, you are going to be the poor soul out of hundreds of people pulled up on stage and made a fool of.

Everyone else can mistakes, but you cannot.

Why is everyone else so confident and relaxed? Why are you the paranoid one?

Everyone else is ok, living a good life, you are the unlucky one.

Every cough or ache is cancer of course.

If a door, gas or electric switch isn’t checked in some form of ritual then doom is certain

Clients often put in their feedback emails that this phrase makes them not only laugh but works perfectly in changing their state of minds and then their behaviour.  That might also have something to do with the glittery crown I often produce to emphasise the being overly “important” role trying to take over as it gets a few eyebrows raised and giggles!

Why be held back by a trick of the mind?  Life can be tough enough as it is without quality of life being reduced to the whim of an anxiety injury.

As for my travel phobia, it’s gone, mostly reduced by not caring what people around me are thinking as they never that interested in the first place.

Brain Physio

Brain Physio

One huge misconception about anxiety and depression is that they are states of mind you can simply snap out of by thinking and acting a bit more positively. Intrusive and worrying thoughts can terrorise some with racing hearts and gut wrenching tension which can even lead to panic attacks.

Trying to look at the brighter side of life on it’s own won’t solve these issues as won’t “manning up,” (Cheers Piers Morgan)  Even clients who have gone through years of counselling are mystified at why their anxiety still persists and throwing more counselling therapy work isn’t going to be the answer either. 

And why? 

The reality for many is quite simple, their anxiety and depression is an injury which needs treating as an actual injury which is where they can begin to get their power back and turn things around.

Anxiety Coaching

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression then in short, the Limbic System which is made up of various parts of the brain which include dealing with your emotions and survival is struggling. The chemistry which helps you feel well, motivated, confident and calm isn’t flowing and needs some help and can get worse as time goes on.

Just like having a strained muscle.  Anxiety coaching with myself is like having physio in the brain, we work out whats causing that injury, adding pressure to your brain and unbalancing your chemistry.  We begin with a very simply program you can follow to help “heal” the biological side of things and then work on the psychological stuff to ensure that your progress continues.

Shame

As I enjoy regularly exercising, I know the importance of having physio when I have an injury so I can get back to it as soon as possible.  There’s not much shame when it comes to getting help for physical injuries and I wish our society saw mental health problems that way. 

You are certainly not weak if you seek help, it takes a lot of courage to take those first steps and no matter where you are with anxiety or depression, it’s never too late to take those steps. I work with teenagers to people who have retired, an injury doesn’t discriminate with age.

Media trolls like Piers Morgan using click bait articles to shame people into thinking mental health issues are a badge of honour for attention seekers and they should just “man up.”  Whilst I’m happy to see his arguments debated and shot down, it’s sad to see how many people ignorantly agree.

Get Help

If you have an injury, seek help and work on getting it healed. Anxiety and depression can even in mild forms make life feel so much harder than it needs to and in the long run can ruin the quality of your life. 

Life’s too precious and short for that.

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