10 Reasons to get a Good Night’s Sleep

There are many reasons to get a good night’s sleep but here are my top 10….

  1. Rejuvenation – Sleep is the body’s down time, a time for cells to repair. Research indicates that people who get only six hours or less sleep a night have higher levels of C-Reactive Protein than those who sleep longer.  This is important because it is associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
  2. Improve immunity – Sleep is believed to boost your immunity as whilst you are sleeping your body produces protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight infection.
  3. Improve memory – During sleep memories are strengthened and skills learned whilst you were awake are “practiced” (it’s a process called consolidation). When we learn something we get better with practice and it seems that performance is improved after allowing the learning to consolidate whilst we are sleeping.
  4. Creativity and problem solving – It is believed that whilst the brain is consolidating memories and learning during sleep, it also reorganises and re-structures memory. This can make us more creative and help solve problems.
  5. Improved learning and concentration – there have been lots of studies particularly with children showing that sleep improves our ability to concentrate and focus and also our learning outcomes. People who sleep adequately get better results in exams for example.
  6. Maintaining a healthy weight – Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56% of their weight loss) than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. Those who had less sleep also felt hungrier.  This is because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).
  7. Decision making – Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making. We all know how much more difficult it is to think clearly and make a good decision when we are tired.  However, one source I read equated insufficient sleep for just one night with being as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink!
  8. Emotional balance – Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, stress, irritability and depression and sufficient sleep can help us stay calm and reasonable.
  9. Stamina – not surprisingly sleep can improve our physical performance and stamina.
  10. Reducing stress – this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation as stress can interfere with sleep. However, finding ways to reduce stress can improve sleep ….. and taking steps to improve sleep can reduce stress levels.  Sleeping well is a win, win!

If you would like to improve your sleep, please drop me a line.

 

 

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean

Today the suwater dropn is shining, yet when I look more closely I can see fine rain.  As with much of life, when you look closely things are not quite as they initially appear….

A few months back someone contacted me concerning a reference I’d made in my newsletter to Edison and the light bulb.  It turns out when you look more closely at this, it too isn’t quite as it seems.  Several people contributed to the process.  An English physician called Sir Humphrey Davy successfully passed an electric current through platinum strips in 1801 but the light lasted only a few minutes. In 1809 Davy created the Arc lamp. In 1840 Warren de la Rue, a British scientist, placed a platinum coil in a vacuum tube and created light that lasted longer. In 1841 Frederick de Moleyns of England was given the first patent for an incandescent lamp, yet it is Joseph Wilson Swan who patented his light bulb in 1878 and Thomas Edison who are generally credited with the invention.  

The reason I mention this is that, like the many drops of water, it often takes a series of events for something really great to happen.  Even though those at the end of the process may get the credit, those earlier steps are often very important. 

So it is with each of us.  Although we may not all be inventors, every day we are involved in a range of activities with a host of different people and every day we have an impact in some way on someone or something.  We can never know exactly what will happen as a result, but each of our actions, thoughts and deeds will make some kind of difference in the world.  Even if we decide to lie in bed all day and do nothing, our absence will have an effect.

Quite a few people I meet at the moment are considering making changes in life such as stopping smoking, losing weight, getting fit, changing jobs.  In each case we might want to wake up and find that a magic wand has just made it happen, but the reality is that it is small steps along the way that will lead to great change.  A healthier lifestyle unfolds one day at a time, a new job is found through a series of actions. 

Sometimes it helps to think ‘just for today I will ……..‘ Then tomorrow you can do it again ‘just for today’.  If you have a bad day and things don’t go so well, that too was ‘just for today’ and tomorrow you can get right back on track. 

We have electric light today because a group of people tried and persevered despite some failures or partial successes.  You too can achieve your goals, you just need to do it one step at a time.

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As always, if you would like help in achieving your own goals, just give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

Love and Acceptance

heartDespite the fact that we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are, some of us struggle when it comes to accepting ourselves.  We can be much more critical of ourselves than we are other people.  Often we have an inner voice that berates us, criticises our behaviour and complains we could have done it better or differently.    In fact, if anyone else spoke to us the way we speak to ourselves, we would have stopped talking to them years ago!

 Some of you reading this will have been taught EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) by me and will know that I often ask you to use statements that include phrases such as “I completely love and accept myself”.  For some people, this is the hardest part of the entire process.  The idea that they could completely love themselves, let alone say it out loud, is terrifying.  Despite being compassionate and understanding towards others, they are unable to show themselves the same level of acceptance. 

 Part of the reason is that some of us don’t even like ourselves much, let alone feel able to accept ourselves!  Perhaps we don’t feel deserving of love or perfect enough to be accepted.  Perhaps we feel we are too much a work in progress and to accept ourself will somehow imply we think we are perfect already.  We feel we are not good enough, perfect enough or loveable enough right now.

 The trouble is that we live in a world of reflections, everything we give out comes reflected back to us.  For example, when we feel good and smile at everyone, people smile back, when we frown and complain people are short with us, things seem to go wrong and we find we have more to complain about.  When it comes to love, in order to fully love someone else we have to accept them as they are.  Love can’t exist at the same time as negative emotion such as anger.  If we want to experience more love (and who wouldn’t?) we need to give out more love, including towards ourselves.

 So I ask you to consider this, just as you would you love, accept and forgive a child who made a mistake, accept that you too make mistakes and are still deserving of love and acceptance.  We all have failures and struggles, we all mess things up from time to time, say or do the wrong thing, we even have moments of hate or spitefulness – all of which merely shows that we are human, fallible, vulnerable.  

 Everyone is on their own path, going at their own speed, learning, growing and transforming on a continual basis.  Wherever we are on this journey each of us is  doing the best he or she can right now.  No one intentionally messes up.  So my challenge to you this month is to accept that wherever you are on your path is exactly where you need to be.  You are the best version of you that you can be right now, so love, accept and if necessary, forgive yourself.  

 Those who love you do so because they see the authentic, beautiful, inner you – so celebrate that and realise that you are deserving of love.  Become your own best friend, quiet that critical inner voice and tell it you will only listen to positive messages from now on.   Treat yourself with love and kindness and look after yourself.  The more comfortable you are being you, the less you will care what others think and the more confidence and freedom you will experience as a result. 

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As always, if there is something you would like to discuss, or you would like more information on any of the subjects raised, just give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

 

Relationships … knowing who is good for you

hands 1

Most of you reading this will have had a time in your life when your heart skipped a beat and you were excited around someone else.  Perhaps it didn’t last that long but whilst it did, you were acutely aware of how your body felt when you thought about or were near that person.

We all notice when someone makes us feel excited to be with them, but often we don’t really pay attention to what our body is doing when we are around everyone else.

Many years ago I had a friend and neighbour who I liked very much and would sometimes spend time with.  She would tell me that she loved being with me and always felt so much better afterwards.  However, although I enjoyed her company, I always left her feeling totally drained and exhausted.    At the time I didn’t realise what was happening.  In fact it was someone else that pointed out that there was a transfer of energy going on between us – from me to my friend.

It is not just people that affect us this way.  Places and things can do so too.  In order to enhance your wellbeing it is important to be able to identify who or what adds value to your life and who or what detracts of brings unhappiness or stress.

Unfortunately, when it comes to identifying who is life enhancing and who isn’t, it can be difficult because most of the people you come into contact with, affect you in a very subtle way.  In fact, sometimes things are not at all as you would expect.

I have a technique to help tune you into those subtle messages.  It is fairly simple but can reveal some surprises…

Find some time when you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes and sit comfortably and quietly.

Step 1:  As you sit, close your eyes and uncross your legs.  Relax and concentrate on noticing how your body feels.  Pay attention to how the chair supports your back, how your legs feel, the weight of your hands in your lap, your breathing, your heart rate and any other sensations your may feel.

Step two:  Now think of a place that you love – this could be at home, somewhere you visit on holiday or went as a child.  It needs to be somewhere you feel completely positive about.  If there are any negative associations, think of another place.

Step three:  When you have thought of your place close your eyes and continue to think of it, noticing how your body feels.  What is your heart rate like? What about your breathing? What other sensations can you feel and where do you feel them? Just notice how it feels.

Step four:  Return your thoughts to sitting in the chair and allow your body to settle again

Step five:  Now think of something that is a problem for you.  This could be a problem at home or at work, or a problem with a person.  Again, close your eyes and notice what your body feels like.  How is your heart rate now?  What about your breathing?  Is there anything else that you notice?  Where in your body do you feel it and what does it feel like?

Now you have a base line for how your body feels for something you love (good)and something that is a problem (bad).

Often we use our heads to determine what we think about something, rather than fully appreciating how we feel about something on a deeper level.  You can now use this base line to identify how you feel inside about a whole range of issues and people.

Step six:  Close your eyes and think of one person in your life.  Notice how your body feels.  Does it feel like the good feelings or the problem ones?  How extreme is it? The sensations will be similar, even if consciously we are unaware that the person makes us feel this way.

Do this for a range of people in your life and notice the results.

What I found doing this exercise myself was, much to my surprise, that a few of my close friends were actually not good for me.  Thinking about them gave me those uncomfortable sensations despite there being no problems I could think of in the relationship.  Conversely there were other people I spent less time with but who caused lovely sensations when I thought of them.  My inner knowing or intuition was quite different to the conscious thoughts I had about those people.

Now you know who in your life is good for you and who may be having a negative impact.  So what’s the next step? 

You can now use this information to make decisions about how much time you spend with who, or find ways to lessen any negative impact.  I appreciate that sometimes the people who bring stress can be close friends or family and I’m not suggesting that you never see them … however, you may choose to find ways to spend more time with people that enhance how you feel and less with those that pull you down.

It is also important to remember that there ARE ways to transform how you feel about certain people or situations.  If you want to change how you feel about something or someone then get in touch today.

The more you are able to enjoy positive influences in life, the happier and healthier you will be!  Increase your own feelings of wellbeing by boosting the positive and transforming how you feel about the negative influences in your life.

Happiness is a state of mind

Happiness is… one of those things that everyone wants.  We all feel happy some of the time and most of us want more of that feeling.  So how do we get it?

We often attribute happiness to things that are external to us.  For example:

  • things that happen to us – I was so happy because I won my race/got a promotion/ found my long lost item/ saw a dolphin …
  • other people – I was happy because she said I looked great in that new outfit/ because he was nice to me/ because my partner was in a good mood…

Sometimes we even have an if only attitude to happiness – if I win the lottery then I’ll be happy/ when I retire then I’ll be happy or when I have a new job/ own a sports car/ have a baby/ write a best seller etc etc THEN I will be happy!

The reality is that happiness is only a state of mind and it really isn’t dependent on anyone or anything else.  Events themselves don’t make you happy, it is the way you interpret them and add meaning to them that makes you happy or unhappy. 

Take a look around you.  There are poor people with nothing who are happy, there are people in poor health that are happy, there are people with difficult or unpleasant jobs who are happy.  There are also plenty of people who are blessed with good health, loving friends and family, decent jobs, a good standard of living and yet are unhappy.  So although making our lives more comfortable, the stuff we often attribute happiness to, really isn’t what makes us happy.

Happiness is an emotional state and like all emotional states, it has a range of sensations that go with it.  As an experiment, try the following exercise:

Start by noticing on a scale of 1-10 how happy you feel right now.  Then close your eyes and recall a time when you were really happy.  Imagine yourself back there, feel how it felt and notice what sensations you are aware of in your body.  Notice what your heart, breathing, stomach, head etc feel like.  What does happiness feel like for you?  Enjoy the sensations and feelings of happiness.  When you are ready, open your eyes.

When you open your eyes notice on a scale of 1-10 how happy you feel now.  Is there a shift from before you did that?  For most people there will be a shift towards feeling more happy, as the state generated by the memory remains for a while afterwards. 

We can influence our emotional state in a number of ways and recalling past happy events is one simple method anyone can use.  Smiling also helps, as does laughing as there seems to be a feedback loop between emotion and facial expression.  The face you pull affects how you feel just as much as how you feel affects your expression!  In fact smiling and laughing have also been shown to give pain relief too as both are reported to release endorphins!

There are other ways to help you feel happier, for example in difficult situations where you feel unhappy, you can try taking an alternative perspective.  Seeing things from another point of view can be really helpful in shifting how you feel.  

Gratitude and appreciation are also powerful tools in the search for greater happiness!  By finding things to be grateful for and things to appreciate in the world you are focusing on the positive and this can lift your mood.  You will also tend to notice more of what you focus on.

 

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping as it is sometimes called) can also help shift negative emotions and transform them into positive ones.  Many of my clients have found this to be an invaluable tool. For more information about this or any of the other techniques mentioned, please give me a call on 07962 896422 – I’d be very happy to explain more and answer any questions you may have.   

In the meantime, practice smiling, find things to appreciate and to laugh at, revisit your happy memories and enjoy your day!

Is there something you want to excel at?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” Aristotle

Of course we all have a range of habits, good and bad.  Some that serve us really well and some that hinder us in some way.  All are formed by repetition.  We brush our teeth each morning, reminded as children by our parents and eventually it becomes a habit.  We don’t even think about it.  We drive the same route to work, hardly noticing the journey unless something new or unusual happens, again repetition has made it habit.

So what has that got to do with excellence?  My interpretation of this is that when striving for excellence we need to keep doing the best we can, over and over.  To give our best one day and give up the next will be unlikely to produce great results.  There is plenty of evidence of this – take musicians or athletes for example, even with great talent, there is always practice.  The orchestra is made up of musicians who each practice daily, over and over again.  The Olympics was full of athletes that practiced daily for years to be able to take part.

Some people believe we are just born with talents, perhaps this is true for some individuals.  However, with or without talent, excellence comes with practice and repetition.  The good news, for those of us not born with some kind of special gift, is that it is still possible to be excellent at something, just by repeated practice.   So what is it you would like to be excellent at?  What would you love to do?

It is said that it takes at least 21 days to make a new habit and that assumes you are doing whatever it is, every day during that period.  So have a go and stick with it.  Keep practicing.  Take the additional step of visualising yourself doing it really well and succeeding (the same way many athletes picture themselves winning).  If “We are what we repeatedly do” then who do you want to become?

Remember, this can be about anything and any aspect of life, even character traits.  For example, if you want to become confident, you could practice doing things with confidence, talking and moving like a confident person; if you want to be more generous you could practice generosity and look for opportunities to give in some way each day.  I’m sure you get the idea.

If you have something you want to achieve, be or do and are finding yourself stuck in any way, please give me a call on 07962 896422 and together we will make it happen.

 

 

Attitude and Results

A while ago I had an interesting experience…  that morning a friend had told me of an elderly neighbour who had been taken into hospital.  As my journey that day took me past the hospital, I decided on the spur of the moment to visit.  When I drove into the hospital grounds I was met by a queue for the car park.  An attendant was talking to each driver in turn before they drove in and I patiently joined the queue.  A car behind honked his horn at me and sped past. As I wound down my window the attendant commented on the horn honking driver and explained that the car park was full but if I waited in a particular area there would be likely spaces, as staff were due to change shifts.  He asked if I had change for the parking meter and exchanged some coins for me.  I thanked him, grateful that he was taking the trouble to help.  A short while later, whilst I was still waiting to park, he approached my car and offered to find me a space “can I get in?” he asked climbing into the passenger seat and directing me out of the main car park and across to another area right outside the front of the hospital.  He found me a space and told me I could park there as long as I needed to at no charge!  When I asked him about his day it turned out that the car park had been chaos all morning – new lines were being painted and people had been in bad tempers all day.  I don’t know what made him extend such kindness to me, I had merely smiled and thanked him for helping me.

This got me thinking and I realised that perhaps most people that day had been impatient, unhappy at queuing, irritated that there were insufficient spaces or by the painting, or just hadn’t taken a moment to say thankyou.  Maybe people were worried about loved ones in the hospital or distracted by their own lives.  Whatever the case, it seems that taking a moment to appreciate the carparking attendant and his efforts to help me were in turn appreciated by the attendant and he repaid me with further kindness.

The situation is not a unique, it often seems that the things we do send out a ripple that affects everything around us, as if the world is a mirror and reflects back what we send out.

The simplest examples are when we wake up feeling tired and grumpy, burn our toast, the car won’t start, there is a traffic jam on the way to work and every traffic light is red.  Your grumpy mood gets grumpier and the day goes from bad to worse.  On other days the world seems brighter, you feel good, things go well and everyone smiles at you.  In this way our whole day can seem to be affected by our mood.

Viktor Frankl, a man who survived the Nazi concentration camps but lost his wife, parents and brother there, famously wrote:

  •  “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
    and 
  • “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

We all have the power to choose our own attitude and our own response in any situation.  We can therefore choose to be upset, angry or irritated or we can choose to be happy, grateful or loving in the same circumstances.   If what we give out affects what we get back in return … and if we can choose our attitude, then we have huge scope to create a happier, more satisfying life, sending out those positive ripples and attracting more of that which we send out.

I realise that there are times when it can be very difficult to choose a positive attitude in response to a challenging event.  However, there are techniques that I use with my clients to make this significantly easier and transform their lives.  For more information or to find out if I could help you transform your life, please contact me.

Are you out of balance or rolling along smoothly?

Your Wheel of Wellbeing …. Imagine the aspects of life that make up your feelings of wellbeing as spokes on a wheel.  If some of the spokes are broken or short then the wheel is wonky, you can’t drive/roll very far and the journey is very uncomfortable.  Here are some simple step by step instructions to help you to create your own wheel so you can see where the broken or short spokes are so that you can make changes in your life and achieve a greater sense of balance. 

Step one: Take a clean sheet of paper and draw a small circle in the centre, this is the hub of your wheel.  Next draw 8 spokes going off that wheel and label each one as follows: 

  • good health
  • appropriate body weight/size
  • healthy diet & hydration 
  • exercise/physical activity
  • good quality sleep
  • self care (healthy habits, not smoking or binge drinking, saying no sometimes)
  • resilience (ability to cope with stress)
  • having fun, laughing and taking time out

Step two :  Divide each spoke into 10 segments with 0 in the centre of the hub and 10 being the outer edge of the spoke.  Working with one spoke at a time, consider how you feel about this aspect of your wellbeing.  Where are you right now?  Rate your current level of satisfaction between 1 and 10 (with one as not satisfied and 10 completely satisfied).   For example, how do you feel about the amount of exercise you are getting?  Make a mark on the spoke to indicate where on a scale of 1 to 10 you feel you are.  This is not a case of whether you run a marathon each week, just whether you feel that the level of exercise you currently get is satisfactory, or whether in an ideal world you would like to do more. Do this for each of your spokes.

Step Three: Draw a line joining all the marks on the spokes to see your finished wheel.  This is where you are currently. 

Step Four: Take a different coloured pen and draw an mark on each spoke for where the ideal balance for that topic would be for you.  Everyone is different and not everyone will feel the need for total satisfaction in every area – Some people will feel balanced when everything is a totally satisfied 10 and others will be fine with certain topics at 10 whilst others are a little lower down the scale. 

You now have a wheel that shows where you are now and where you would like to be in order to feel a greater sense of wellbeing. 

Next steps:  This is a good starting point as in every journey you need to know where you are starting from and where you want to go to.  Now you have identified both your starting point and your destination!  The next step is to figure out potential routes and choose the best one for you.  This is where some people find it helpful to work with a coach, someone who helps you identify the options available and select the best way for you to achieve the results you want. 

If you are working on your own I suggest you consider one spoke at a time as trying to tackle too many areas at once could leave you overwhelmed and frustrated.  Choose one spoke – perhaps one with a big difference between where you are and where you want to be.  Work out what you could do to improve your score.  Consider the options and choose the best for you right now.  Then COMMIT to take action and do the thing or things you have decided on. 

Assess your progress as you go – Is this plan working for you? Do you need to change anything? Are you keeping to your commitment?  If not, what is stopping you?  Remember that this is your wheel, your wellbeing and your solutions we are talking about. Nothing is fixed in stone, you can tweak it as you go.  The aim is to make it work for you so that you get closer to your ideal.

Making a change in just one or two areas can often lead to unexpected benefits as feeling healthy and having a great sense of wellbeing impacts all areas of our lives – including our work and our relationships.  

I appreciate that many people find it difficult to identify the actions they need to take, or to motivate themselves to take that action and keep on going.  If you are one of those people, please let me know and I will do my very best to help you.  I know only too well that being out of balance for long periods can lead to health problems, as it did for me.  Please make time to look after yourself and your wellbeing.

If you would like to talk to me about improving your wellbeing, or want support to help you stay motivated, please give me a call on 07962 896422.