Category Archives: emotional well being

How to take care of your internal world. When we do this, the external world automatically seems brighter.

Anticipatory stress

 

stress photo

Anticipatory stress

I’ve noticed with many of my clients that they become stressed when they think about all the chores and duties they have ahead of them. It goes something like this:

“First I have to be up by 7am and get ready to be out of the house by 8.15 am. Then I have to make it through the traffic to work. I have a meeting at 11am but also have to fit in loads of phonecalls and I don’t know if I will have time to get them all done. I don’t know how I will squeeze lunch in as I have a report to write and I know two people are trying to pin my down for urgent meetings….etc”

When we consider all that we have to do all at once, it can seem like we have an insurmountable mountain ahead of us and can lead us to feeling panicky. Anticipatory stress comes from the fear of having to much to do and not being able to cope.

Instead of looking at everything that has to be done, break the day/week/month down into smaller pieces. This is called “chunking” and can help reduce and minimise anticipatory stress.

Deal with the morning separately from the afternoon and/or evening. Anxiety arises from the threat seeming overwhelming and our belief that we will not cope. If this feeling of being overwhlemed continues indefinitely however, it might be that you seriously need some proper time out. When last did you have some time off? We all need to have a few days in a row (at least a week, two weeks ideally for a proper rest) to re-assess and recharge. If you constantly feel tired and overwhelmed it may be that you are burnt out.

Have a look at what brings you positive energy (things, people who inspire you and leave you feeling happy and energised) and what drains you – negative energy. This could be toxic people, a bad job or a bad relationship to name a few. When we are out of balance and have too much negative energy in our lives, it’s common sense that we are going to feel tired and stressed. As much as possible, realign what you can to increase positive energy and reduce negative energy. Balance is key in counteracting stress.

Mindfulness techniques (I will write about this in a future post) can also be extremely useful in reducing anticipatory stress. We all tend to live in our heads too much, worrying about the future and learning to remain in the present moment is a fantastic skill that can allow you to really be present in your life now.

Stress is a part of life but we can learn to manage it effectively. Try the above tips and book that holiday!

Mandy X

Personal affirmations to counteract stress

 

confident

Personal affirmations to counteract stress

I created a personal mantra to help focus my mind when I am feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed by stress. It helps to remind me that it is possible to counteract stress by regularly ‘feeding’ myself a positive inner dialogue. I call it my 4R Mantra and I’d like to share it with you…

Resourceful – I am resourceful

The first “R” is for resourceful. I remind myself that I am good at finding a way around things. Whether it means finding out more information or by finding support from the right people, I believe that I can find these resources if I need them. The idea of being resourceful is a powerful one as it suggests that if I do not have the skills or knowledge to fix a problem, I will find someone or something to help.

See yourself as resourceful and believe that you will somehow find a way. Always believe that help is at hand. The next thing I need to work on is asking for help – still working on that one!

Resilient – I am resilient

I like to remind myself that I am resilient and in times of trouble, I like to  remind myself of the tough times I have already been through. I am still here – I have lived through tough times and have lived to tell the tale. Remind yourself regularly of how you have overcome problems in the past to reinforce that you will cope better than you think you will.

Ready – I am ready

I sometimes say to myself “Bring it on”. I don’t like stress and I hate feeling anxious but I accept that it will always be something that will enter into my life in various forms. Whether it’s through a tricky relationship or a challenge at work, I like to feel that I am ready for it. I try not to tell myself that I will be happy when….I can be happy now. I am ready now for the good and the bad. When you tell yourself you are ready it takes the fear away. You are prepared. When you don’t feel ready you are sending yourself a message that somehow you need to prepare or that you lack something. You hold the key – nothing is lacking…

Recognition – I recognise my strengths

We tend to be so self critical of ourselves and rarely give ourselves the recognition we deserve. Give yourself a pat on the back for all your triumphs, no matter how small. When you do something that outs you out of your comfort zone, give yourself recognition.

The above steps can help us to counteract stress and improve our belief in ourselves. It reminds us that we can and do cope better than we think we will when life is tough and challenging.

Mandy X

 

What makes relationships work

 

happy relationship photo

What makes relationships work

I have often wondered what it is that makes a relationship work. Believe me, I have tried many different strategies to see whether I could come up with a foolproof method in order to be successful in the dating game.

I tried being really nice and keen. I also tried acting disinterested. After a while of internet dating, I upgraded my car and wondered if a nicer, more expensive car might improve my chances. I also moved home during my dating phase into a larger more expensive home. I kept some men guessing and didn’t return their texts straight away. I tried many different scenarios. Unfortunately, each different strategy didn’t produce overwhelmingly positive results and each time I ended up back at the drawing board where I originally started.

All of this made me realise something. Mostly, it’s not about the car you drive or where you live and it’s not about being too nice or treating them mean to keep them keen. What makes relationships work is down to one fundamental thing – how much the other person likes you and wants to be in a relationship. It’s that simple!

If the other person likes you, they will make allowances for many things. If they like you – that is, how you look and they fancy you physically and like your personality, the rest is less important.

You can stand on your head and do cartwheels and give your best impression ever but if the other person isn’t into you, nothing you do will change their mind.

So, the lesson here is – just be yourself!!

Obviously, you may be on best behaviour initially but fundamentally you need to be true to yourself. No one can keep up a pretense forever and you will just make yourself anxious trying to be someone you aren’t. Be confident in yourself and like yourself and others will be inclined to do the same. If someone doesn’t love the true you then it is their loss and this leaves you free to find someone who loves and appreciates just as you are!

Here’s to ‘TRUE LOVE’ – being true to yourself in love xx

Mandy X

How to promote emotional wellbeing

 

happiness photo

How to promote emotional well being

Looking after yourself on a physical level is important if you want to keep your mind healthy and protect your emotional well being. The body and the mind are closely linked and both need to be working well and be looked after in order for a person to function well. An unhealthy body won’t help promote a healthy mind.

Think of the acronym “PLEASE” to help you remember important aspects of this connection:

PL           Treat Physical Illness

E              Eat healthy

A              Avoid mood altering drugs

S              Sleep well

E               Exercise

FOCUS

Monitor what you focus on. Humans tend to focus more on what isn’t going right instead of looking at what is working.If you hear ten compliments and one criticism, you’ll probably focus on the criticism. Work on having an attitude of gratitude and appreciation.

Watch your thinking and let the negative thoughts float by. Thoughts will keep coming, you don’t have to focus on each one. Pick out the helpful ones and dismiss the negative ones. Self limiting beliefs can be detrimental to emotional well being.

OPPOSITE ACTION

Do the opposite of what you normally do. What we resist persists. If you normally get angry and shout, try walking away or whisper instead of yelling. Try force a smile. If you normally avoid people when you feel down, force yourself to call a friend or visit someone.

Doing the opposite can help you to change your emotion.

CHECK THE FACTS

Are there times in your life when you have overreacted or where you have assumed something and been wrong? Always check the facts – thoughts are not facts. Looking for evidence can reduce the intensity of emotions. Ask yourself what triggered your emotion? What interpretations and assumptions are you making? Does your emotion and its intensity match the facts of the situation?

Always stop and take time out before reacting to something, especially if your emotions are running high. A little bit of time is always a good way to add perspective to a situation.

Mandy X

 

 

How to decatastrophise

 

relax photo

How to decatastrophise

We’ve all been there – something triggers us and we end up catastrophising and imagining the absolute worst case scenario. We make mountains out of molehills. Try out the techniques in this blog post to decatastrophise and get back to normality. One thought can sometimes spiral out of control and before we know it we have become homeless, bankrupt, single /and/or have imagined ourselves on our deathbed. Learn to deal with anxiety and stress in a calmer way and enjoy a less stressful life.

Steps to decatastrophise

Specify the catastrophic consequence clearly:

This has to be as specific as possible. “What if something bad happens?” is too vague.

Here are a few good examples:

What if my health never gets better?

What if my partner leaves me?

Losing my job

Change any “what if” statements into concrete declarations of fact:

Examples: My health will never get better

My partner will leave me

I will lose my job

Challenge the truth/validity of your statement:

Ask yourself if anything bad has ever happened before. Ask yourself how often this might happen or whether it is very likely to happen. Also ask yourself whether there is any clear evidence to suggest that your worry will come true.

Ask yourself what a friend might say if you told them about your worry. Are there any reasons to doubt your worry coming true?

Examples: My health is bad right now but I have been ill before and improved. The doctor said I had a good prognosis.

My relationship is going through a rough patch but that doesn’t mean my partner is thinking of leaving me. My partner has given me no indication that they might leave me.

I might be performing worse at work but losing my job is a big jump. Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions. There is no evidence that I am about to be fired.

Come up with three positive alternative statements:

My health will probably get better. I’m at my worst now – even if I don’t fully recover I’m likely to get better than I am now.

My relationship will survive this tricky patch

My job will still be there tomorrow

Remember that thoughts are not facts and there are times when we allow our thoughts to get the better of us and cause us great distress. Use the above exercise to restore calm to your mind and see things from a different perspective.

Mandy X

 

 

Accept anxiety as a part of life

 

accept anxiety

Accept anxiety as a part of life

Anxiety is a part of life unfortunately, yet we all furiously engage in behaviours to try avoid anxiety as much as possible. When you accept anxiety as a part of life it actually becomes easier to manage.

If you are not willing to experience anxiety, you will definitely have anxiety!

When you accept anxiety as something that will always be there, you can then learn ways to deal with it more effectively. Anxiety can be managed but it can’t be removed completely.

Anxiety is caused by two things:

  1. The fact that we overestimate the threat. This could be fear of rejection, humiliation or failure. It could also be fear of losing someone or experiencing shame. There are numerous triggers around us and the more we try to avoid them, the more anxious we become.
  2. The fact that we underestimate our ability to cope. We often cope far better than we anticipate bit the more we avoid situations that might cause anxiety, the fewer opportunities we have to test out our beliefs.

Tips for managing anxiety

Know the difference between a real problem (the car has broken down) and a hypothetical problem. This is a “what if” problem that might never happen. Learn to spend less time agonising over “what if” type problems. Find a solution if possible but then ‘mentally shelve’ the worry.

Don’t spend time overthinking. If you can do something that is solution focused to help towards solving the problem/worry, do it. If you can’t, learn to distract yourself. Count backwards from 100 or do something else but don’t waste mental energy by allowing a problem to go round and round in your mind.

Learn to let thoughts pass without focusing on them. We have between 40 000 – 60 000 thoughts per day. Visualise thoughts as leaves flowing on a river, let the ones that aren’t useful pass by. It is possible to learn to focus your attention on the thoughts that are helpful rather than unhelpful. Examples of unhelpful thoughts: I will never be able to cope. I am useless. It will never work etc

If you really cannot focus elsewhere, try implementing ‘worry time’ Give yourself 30 minutes per day to worry and for the rest of the day, do your best to distract yourself and keep busy.

Ask yourself: what would I tell a friend in this situation? Am I exaggerating the threat? Is there another way to look at this that makes me feel less anxious? (there is always another way to look at something).

Learn mindfulness – be in the moment more rather than living in your head. TO bring yourself back to the present moment, try this:

Look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, 1 thing you can taste. The more you engage your 5 senses, the less time your brain has to wander off to your worries.

Anxiety is the body’s way of telling us we are in danger but often the body sends us false alarms. We may feel physical sensations related to anxiety – sweaty palms, heart palpitations etc but tell yourself quietly that you are safe and that you are not in danger.

Try deep breathing to calm yourself and tell yourself “this will pass”.

Make anxiety your friend as much as possible. See it as an early warning system that can prepare you and make you ready for action.

Mandy X

 

How to deal with emotional blackmail

 

emotional blackmail

How to deal with emotional blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a form of psychological manipulation. When someone tries to make you feel fear and guilt if you do not do something, you are probably being blackmailed emotionally.

Manipulators love to use emotional blackmail. They are very adept at knowing your weak spots – the areas that lead you to feel guilt or shame and they will target that mercilessly. They will make you feel you are a bad parent, a bad child or a bad spouse with emotional blackmail

Examples: If you loved me you would take me to see that show.

A good father would pay for me to have that outfit.

The give-get ratio is out of balance and you may not realise you are being manipulated. Even though you may not fully realise what is going on, you will more than likely feel bothered or may even feel anxious and depressed.

Is there someone in your life who always seems to be judging you as “good” or “bad”. Do they judge your actions and use emotions to explain why you should or shouldn’t be doing something? Are you doing things for others that you don’t feel entirely comfortable with? It may just be that you are the victim of emotional blackmail.

Set personal boundaries for yourself. Decide what you will and won’t do and clearly define what is acceptable to you. Stick to this no matter what. A blackmailer will try to confuse you and throw in all sorts of issues to distract you and make you doubt yourself. Often they are complete hypocrites who do all the things they say you are doing or not doing. Double standards are something emotional blackmailers live by.

Manipulators will often try force someone into making a quick decision. Never feel pressured and take your time if you are unsure. Trust your instincts.

Learn to say no and stick to personal boundaries. These are the most important strategies to deal with emotional blackmail. Learn to cultivate emotional distance from what the person is threatening you with. If you fear you will lose the relationship and keep giving in to them, they will keep manipulating you. You have to be willing to lose the relationship and stand up for yourself for something to shift and for you to regain power in the relationship. It is only once you take a stand and refuse to give in to the emotional blackmail that a positive shift can take place.

Mandy X

 

Thoughts on core beliefs

 

core beliefs

Thoughts on core beliefs

We all look at the world differently but it is easy to believe that others see things the same way we do. Two people can have the same experience but come away from that with a very different reaction/thought process. We all interpret the world differently according to our upbringings, genetics and past experiences.

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that can be hard to shake. Often, they are dysfunctional and inaccurate. For example – someone who was constantly told as a child that they are worthless will most likely internalise that and make that part of their identity, believing themselves to be worthless. Think of core beliefs like a pair of sunglasses – a kind of filter that we see the world through. We are more atuned to pick up on things around us that confirm our core beliefs and will reject or not notice things that don’t confirm our core beliefs. Events that happen that prove a person isn’t worthless may be dismissed as it doesn’t fit. This is how core beliefs can limit us unnecessarily.

How core beliefs can limit us:

Situation: You meet a new person and think about asking them to go for coffee.

Core belief – I’m not worthy = Consequence: Why would they go out with me? Don’t ask them for coffee

Core belief – I am worthy = Consequence: We might have fun if we go out together. Asks the person to go for coffee.

Many people have negative core beliefs that cause harmful consequences and limit their opportunities. They hold on to self limiting beliefs without realising it.

To begin challenging your core beliefs, you first need to identify what they are. Here are some common examples:

I am unworthy; I am  unloveable; I am unworthy; I’m ugly; I’m undeserving; I’m a bad person; I’m stupid…

What is one of your core beliefs? _______________________

List three pieces of evidence contrary to your belief_____________

Beliefs can be changed, that’s the good news. Some beliefs are old, outdated and just not true. Do a stock-take on your core beliefs and make sure you have core beliefs that support and empower you.

Mandy X