Life Design


For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading Life Design

What’s the Deal With Hypnotherapy?


Lets face it, none of us are perfect and being brutally honest, no one is. Just like me, I am sure that there are things you know you could change, small tweaks that might make your life more satisfying, more rewarding and fulfilling.

Perhaps changing a bad habit for a useful new one, overcoming a long-standing phobia, or maybe finding the right motivators to change what you eat so that you can lose that excess fat and keep it off.

We all have something we’d like to change or improve, but how do you do it? How can you break what might be the habit of a lifetime, or find the strength to resist temptation?
And even more importantly, how do you make sure your new habit/behaviour sticks?

If you’ve ever tried to do it on your own, you’ll know it’s no easy feat and as difficult as it seems, it’s not impossible, especially when you get the right kind of help.

What Is Hypnotherapy?
Look at the word “hypnotherapy” and you’ll see it’s actually a combination of two words.
Hypnosis – and therapy.In a nutshell it’s a complementary therapy that utilities the power of hypnosis by instilling positive suggestions into your unconscious mind.

With the right suggestions, it’s possible to alter:
The way you think
The way you feel
The way you behave

And this is why hypnotherapy is such a potent tool for change, because when you can change your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviours – you can move mountains, you can overcome any obstacle that blocks your way, because it enables you to tackle things that you once thought impossible. Plus, when used by a well trained, certified professional, hypnotherapy can help with every one of the following:
Addictions
Childbirth
Obsessions
Compulsions
Anger management
Depression
Eating disorders
Confidence building
Self-esteem boosting
Anxiety relief
Exam nerves
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Fears and phobias
Pain management
Sexual issues
Relaxation
Stuttering
Tinnitus
Sleep disorders
Stress reduction
Weight loss

Now that’s quite a list, so the next question is, how can it be so effective? How can it deal with ALL of those things? The answer is simple.

Hypnotherapy gets to the bottom of whatever the issue is. It bypasses your critical conscious mind and connects you with your unconscious. It changes your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours from the inside out. This means it tackles the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms, and deals with it. And to top it off, it often does that better than almost any other form of therapy.

Hypnotherapy Comes Out On Top

Dr. Alfred A. Barrios conducted a survey of psychotherapy literature. He discovered that:
93% of clients recover after 6 sessions of hypnotherapy
72% of clients recover after 22 sessions of behavioural therapy
38% of clients recover after 600 sessions of psychoanalysis

That blew my mind when I first read that, it’s quite amazing. Not only does hypnotherapy work faster – 6 sessions compared to 22 or more – but it works for a larger percentage of people.

It’s four times faster than behavioural therapy and a massive 100 times faster than psychoanalysis.

That might explain why the practice has been certified worldwide as an alternative way to manage so many conditions:
In 1996, the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association introduced a peer-group accreditation system for professional Australian hypnotherapists.
In the UK, the Department for Education and Skills developed National Occupational Standards for hypnotherapy in 2002.
In the USA, hypnotherapy regulation and certification is carried out by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners (A.C.H.E.). The first state-licensed hypnotherapy center was the Hypnotism Training Institute of Los Angeles, licensed way back in 1976.

So hypnotherapy is not just useful. It’s recognised worldwide as a bona fide treatment method for tackling issues in many areas of your life, including:

Mental and emotional health
Physical well-being
Spiritual development
Creativity
Motivation
Business concerns
Goal achievement
And lots more besides.

Now I’m pretty sure you’re wondering, “wait a minute, there other ways to deal with this stuff aren’t there? What about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, psychoanalysis & NLP?
the people who provide these services need to be qualified and certified too don’t they?
So how come they aren’t as effective as hypnotherapy?

To answer this question, you need to look at how the other three work.

Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalysis & NLP
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is used to change the way you think and behave, it helps you deal with your problems in a more positive light. It’s commonly used to treat anxiety and depression by giving you practical ways to deal with life on a daily basis. The idea is to break down larger issues into smaller parts so they’re easier to cope with.
This enables you to manage them one at a time and gradually improve the way you feel.
It doesn’t remove the problems, but it gives you valid coping mechanisms so you can learn to manage them more easily.

Psychoanalysis is also widely used to treat anxiety and depression, but with a different approach.
Psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud and the principle behind psychoanalysis is uncovering repressed emotions and experiences. So while CBT deals with problems in the present, the here and now, psychoanalysis delves into your past and in many cases, your childhood. It attempts to try to find the reasons why you feel anxious or depressed and by letting those repressed emotions come to the surface you can confront them and finally put them to rest.

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Neuro refers to your nervous system, the link between your brain and body.
Linguistic refers to the language you use.
Programming refers to learned behaviours and the way you respond to stimuli.
So NLP aims to change your behaviour (your programming) by altering the way your brain responds to what’s going on around you. It uses techniques like anchors and disassociation to achieve this. NLP is particularly useful for breaking habits and overcoming fears, which is great. What’s interesting though, is this, NLP often combines its techniques with hypnosis and self-hypnosis.

CBT has been proven more effective when used in conjunction with hypnotherapy. Even psychoanalysis works better when you’re under hypnosis, because you’re more in touch with your unconscious mind.
Your unconscious mind is where all those memories and conflicts are stored and it seems that no matter which therapy is employed, the end result is the same. When you add a bit of hypnotherapy, you hugely increase your chances of success.

So Why Choose Hypnotherapy?
Let’s be honest here, when it comes to therapy, there are so many choices available today and Hypnotherapy is just one of the options. So why should you choose Hypnotherapy above any other treatment form?

There are at least three very good reasons:
It’s faster than other forms of therapy
It addresses more issues than other forms of therapy
It gets right to the heart of the problem and deals with it directly

During a hypnotherapy session, the therapist starts by talking to you and asking you questions in order to find out what the problem is. This allows them to learn about you and your life and this helps them decide the best way to help you overcome whatever issue you’re having. Once they know that, they’ll move on to hypnosis where they will lead you into a mild trance where your critical conscious mind can just switch off. This is basically a state of heightened awareness where you can access your unconscious and make deep-seated and lasting changes.

When you can do that, the possibilities are endless.
You can:
Find solutions to long-standing problems
Wipe away old limiting beliefs
Turn negative thoughts into positive ones
Develop new and healthier habits
Set realistic and achievable goals
Take active control of your health, your career, your relationships, and your life in general

And like the other therapies mentioned above, it works for anxiety and depression too. In fact, if you can think of a problem or an issue, hypnotherapy can probably help.
It can help you make better decisions
Get increased concentration
Unleash your imagination
Feel more relaxed, and more at peace with yourself
Wipe away stress
Feel healthier in mind and body
Boost your self-belief
Sleep better and function at your peak more often
Find the stability that will allow you to truly live your life, rather than just going through the motions

Because even though nobody’s perfect, there’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence by making one small change at a time through the power of hypnosis.

Life Design Enables Mastering of Self-renewal and Generativity


10 skills  required to change yourself …

Managing the change cycle is a self-renewing process. It empowers people to be self-confident and generative. Generativity is defined as a process whereby we learn to follow our deeper interests and longings and bring about change. It helps us to avoid the dangers of self-absorption and stagnation because we learn to live in new ways that expand our horizons. The following are 10 skills for managing the change cycle. Each skill has a time in the cycle when it performs a critical function, however, all 10 skills are important at all times because to some degree parts of our lives are simultaneously at various places in the cycle.

Visioning or Dreaming the Plan – The dream or vision is the driving force for the life structure, a source of passion and values. The plan is the plot for making the dream happen.

Launching – Launching puts the plan to action; it requires commitment and personal mission.

Plateauing – Plateauing is the art of sustaining a successful life structure…. It is knowing when and how to keep enriching the dream/plan for as long as it makes sense to do so.

Managing the Doldrums – This requires coming to terms with decline, negative emotions, and feeling trapped in an increasingly dysfunctional life structure.

Sorting Things Out – Choosing what to keep, what to eliminate or change, what to add, and how to proceed into a revitalised life structure is the task of this step of the change cycle.

Ending a Life Structure – This requires an ability to say farewell with gratitude and clarity, which frees you to consider your next options.

Restructuring – This mini-transition can be used if the life structure could be improved through some specific changes.

Cocooning – The transition into a new life structure requires turning inward to take stock, to identify your own basic values, and to disengage emotionally and mentally from the former life structure.

Self-Renewal – Following successful cocooning, this step involves a rebirth of self-esteem, a re-evaluation of core issues and beliefs, and the recovery of hope and purpose.

Experimenting – Creativity, learning, risk taking, and networking give one a sense of purpose and power in creating a new life structure.

SELF-RENEWAL FOR COACHING AND SELF-COACHING

Finding meaning in our work is critical if we are to avoid stagnation and boredom (Bergquist et al. 1993). It is the responsibility of each individual to effect the change necessary to reinvent work so that it has personal relevance. Many companies are now requiring that employees take responsibility for their own professional development.

Some critical strategies required when being coached:

  • Honest assessment of self and skills
  • Genuine motivation and drive to establish and pursue a goal
  • Understanding and knowledge of the strategic challenges of their position and business
  • Commitment to establishing an action plan that is built upon realistic expectations and that draws upon available resources, both within and outside the company
  • Being able to accomplish successful career/professional development transitions within an existing organisation/life structure
  • Creating a new organisation/life structure requires personal motivation.
  • Successful transition is linked with one’s sense of autonomy or internal locus of control, and manifested in a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. It is the force that propels individuals to take the initiative in directing their own lives and careers.

Many people find value in their work as a source of new learning and challenge. “They return to school, enter training programs, or enroll in workshops and seminars to keep up to date in their current jobs or strike out on their own” (Bergquist). Others, hampered by lack of drive, fear of failure, or reluctance to exit company retirement plans by terminating employment, stay in unsatisfying and/or stressful jobs. Bergquist et al. ask if the sacrifice is necessary or worthwhile. “When does the time come for us to cease deferring gratification for the future and begin actually living the fabled future?”. Whatever their age, adults must find meaning and community in their work if they want to be generative and alive. Therefore, they must look toward continued opportunities to reinvent work as a central part of reinventing themselves.

“Life Design” takes all these factors into account both personally and professionally and helps you make the right choices for your future.

Beginning Today


Beginning Today

Beginning today I will no longer worry about yesterday. It is in the past and the past will never change. Only I can change by choosing to do so.

Beginning today I will no longer worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will always be there, waiting for me to make the most of it. But I cannot make the most of tomorrow without first making the most of today.

Beginning today I will look in the mirror and I will see a person worthy of my respect and admiration. This capable person looking back at me is someone I enjoy spending time with and someone I would like to get to know better.

Beginning today I will cherish each moment of my life. I value the gift bestowed upon me in this world and I will unselfishly share this gift with others.

Beginning today I will take a moment to step off the beaten path and to revel in the mysteries I encounter. I will face challenges with courage and determination. I will overcome what barriers there may be which hinder my quest for growth and self- improvement.

Beginning today I will take life one day at a time, one step at a time. Discouragement will not be allowed to taint my positive self-image, my desire to succeed or my capacity to love.

Beginning today I walk with renewed faith in human kindness. Regardless of what has gone before. I believe there is hope for a brighter and better future.

Beginning today I will open my mind and my heart. I will welcome new experiences. I will meet new people. I will not expect perfection from myself nor anyone else: perfection does not exist in an imperfect world. But I will applaud the attempt to overcome human foibles.

Beginning today I am responsible for my own happiness and I will do things that make me happy… admire the beautiful wonders of nature, listen to my favourite music, pet a kitten or a puppy, soak in a bubble bath… Pleasure can be found in the most simple of gestures.

Beginning today I will learn something new; I will try something different; I will savour all the various flavours life has to offer. I will change what I can and the rest I will let go. I will strive to become the best me I can possibly be. Beginning Today, ……………..and Every day.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)


One of the most simple and easily learned techniques for relaxation is Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), a widely-used procedure today that was originally developed by Jacobson in 1939.

The PMR procedure teaches you to relax your muscles through a two-step process. First you deliberately apply tension to certain muscle groups, and then you stop the tension and turn your attention to noticing how the muscles relax as the tension flows away.

Through repetitive practice you quickly learn to recognise—and distinguish—the associated feelings of a tensed muscle and a completely relaxed muscle. With this simple knowledge, you can then induce physical muscular relaxation at the first signs of the tension that accompanies anxiety. And with physical relaxation comes mental calmness—in any situation.

Before practicing PMR, consult with your physician if you have a history of serious injuries, muscle spasms, or back problems, because the deliberate muscle tensing of the PMR procedure could exacerbate any of these pre-existing conditions.

If you continue with this procedure, you do so at your own risk.

There are two steps in the self-administered Progressive Muscle Relaxation procedure:

(a) deliberately tensing muscle groups

(b) releasing the induced tension

This two-step process will be described after you are introduced to the muscle groups.

After learning the full PMR procedure as follows, you will spend about 10 minutes a day maintaining your proficiency by practicing a shortened form of the procedure (given in the next section below). As you practice the short procedure, you will be simultaneously learning cue-controlled relaxation. Ultimately, you will acquire something that will probably become an indispensable part of your daily life, and the initial drudgery of practice will be long-forgotten.

Suggestions for Practice

It is recommended that you practice full PMR twice a day for about a week before moving on to the shortened form (below). Of course, the time needed to master the full PMR procedure varies from person to person.

Here are some suggestions for practice:

Always practice full PMR in a quiet place, alone, with no electronic distractions, not even background music
Remove your shoes and wear loose clothing
Avoid eating, smoking, or drinking. It’s best to practice before meals rather than after, for the sake of your digestive processes
Never practice after using any intoxicants
Sit in a comfortable chair if possible. You may practice lying down, but this increases the likelihood of falling asleep
If you fall asleep, give yourself credit for the work you did up to the point of sleep
If you practice in bed at night, plan on falling asleep before you complete your cycle. Therefore, consider a practice session at night, in bed, to be in addition to your basic practice
When you finish a session, relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds, and then get up slowly. (Orthostatic hypotension—a sudden drop in blood pressure due to standing up quickly—can cause you to faint.) Some people like to count backwards from 5 to 1, timed to slow, deep breathing, and then say, “Eyes open. Supremely calm. Fully alert.”

Muscle Groups

You will be working with most all the major muscle groups in your body, but for convenience you will make a systematic progression from your feet upwards. Here is the most popular recommended sequence:

Right foot
Right lower leg and foot
Entire right leg
Left foot
Left lower leg and foot
Entire left leg
Right hand
Right forearm and hand
Entire right arm
Left hand
Left forearm and hand
Entire left arm
Abdomen
Chest
Neck and shoulders
Face
Note. If you are left-handed, you might want to begin with your left foot, and so on.

Tension–Relaxation Procedure

Step One: Tension. The process of applying tension to a muscle is essentially the same regardless of which muscle group you are using. First, focus your mind on the muscle group; for example, your right hand. Then inhale and simply squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 8 seconds; in the example, this would involve making a tight fist with your hand.

Note. Beginners usually make the mistake of allowing muscles other than the intended group to tense as well; in the example, this would be tensing muscles in your right arm and shoulder, not just in your right hand. With practice you will learn to make very fine discriminations among muscles; for the moment just do the best you can.

It can be very frustrating for a beginner to try to experience a fine degree of muscle separation.

Because neglect of the body is an almost universal cultural attitude, it is usually very difficult to begin learning how to take responsibility for body “mechanics.” So take heart and realise that learning fine muscle distinction is in itself a major part of the overall PMR learning process. PMR isn’t just about tension and relaxation—it is also about muscle discernment.

But also relax a bit and realise that no part of the body is an isolated unit; the muscles of the hand, for example, do have connections in the forearm, so when you tense your hand there will always be some small tension occurring in the forearm. When PMR asks that the hand be tensed without tensing the arm, it is really speaking to the “clumsy” beginner who, out of total body ignorance, will unthinkingly tense everything in the whole arm.

So if you accept the fact that you are simply in the beginner phase—rather than perceive yourself as somehow inept—then you can have the patience to discern the fine muscles with practice.

It’s important to really feel the tension. Done properly, the tension procedure will cause the muscles to start to shake, and you will feel some pain.

Note. Be careful not to hurt yourself, as compared to feeling mild pain. Contracting the muscles in your feet and your back, especially, can cause serious problems if not done carefully; i.e., gently but deliberately.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation, stress management

Step Two: Releasing the Tension. This is the best part because it is actually pleasurable. After the 8 seconds, just quickly and suddenly let go. Let all the tightness and pain flow out of the muscles as you simultaneously exhale. In the example, this would be imagining tightness and pain flowing out of your hand through your fingertips as you exhale. Feel the muscles relax and become loose and limp, tension flowing away like water out of a faucet. Focus on and notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Note. The point here is to really focus on the change that occurs as the tension is let go. Do this very deliberately, because you are trying to learn to make some very subtle distinctions between muscular tension and muscular relaxation.

Stay relaxed for about 15 seconds, and then repeat the tension-relaxation cycle. You’ll probably notice more sensations the second time.

The Full PMR Schedule

Once you understand the muscle groups and the tension-relaxation procedure, then you are ready to begin the full PMR training. Simply follow the list of muscle groups in the sequence given and work through your entire body. Practice twice a day for a week. Spend extra time, if necessary, until you can achieve a deep sense of physical relaxation; then you can move on to the Shortened PMR schedule.

The Shortened PMR Schedule

In the shortened form of PMR, you will (a) work with summary groups of muscles rather than individual muscle groups, and (b) begin to use cue-controlled relaxation.

The summary muscle groups. The four summary muscle groups are as follows:

Lower limbs
Abdomen and Chest
Arms, Shoulders, and Neck
Face
Instead of working with just one specific part of your body at a time, focus on the complete group. In Group 1, for example, focus on both legs and feet all at once.

Cue-controlled relaxation. Use the same tension-relaxation procedure as full PMR, but work with the summary groups of muscles. In addition, focus on your breathing during both tension and relaxation. Inhale slowly as you apply and hold the tension. Then, when you let the tension go and exhale, say a cue word to yourself (below). This will help you to associate the cue word with a state of relaxation, so that eventually the cue word alone will produce a relaxed state.

Many people find that cue-controlled relaxation does not have to depend on only one word; it may actually be more helpful in some situations to use a particular phrase. Some suggestions for cue words/phrases are:

Relax
Let it go
It’s OK
Stay calm
All things are passing
Trust in yourself

Summary

Initially, you should practice the shortened form of PMR under the same conditions as you practiced full PMR. After about a week of twice-daily practice you will then have enough proficiency to practice it under other conditions and with distractions. Or you might want to move on to the final process of Deep Muscle Relaxation.

Build Your Self Discipline and Increase your Success


2013-08-16 17.35.50

I regularly work with clients who say things to me like, “I can’t do that” or “I’ll never have/be/do that”, etc, etc. Now there are a load of things going on with these small statements that have to be addressed in order for these people to make a break through, things such as limiting beliefs, perception, mindset, attitude and a certain lack of motivation due to all of these things. This can have a hugely negative effect on a persons self discipline and motivation to actually succeed and to work towards success.

Personal success, achievement, or goal, can’t be realised without self-discipline. It is possibly the most important attribute needed to achieve any type of personal excellence, athletic excellence, virtuosity in the arts, or any form of outstanding performance, because without it, there is no consistency and continuity of effort towards achieving that goal.

What is Self-Discipline?

It is the ability to control emotions, thoughts, impulses, desires and behaviours. It is being able to say No, to immediate pleasure and instant gratification in favour of gaining the long-term satisfaction and fulfillment from achieving higher and more meaningful goals.

To possess self-discipline is to be able to make the decisions, take the actions, and execute your game plan regardless of the obstacles, discomfort, or difficulties, which may come your way.

Being disciplined does not mean living a limiting or a restrictive lifestyle, nor does it mean giving up everything you enjoy, or, to relinquish fun and relaxation. However, it does mean learning how to focus your mind and energies on your goals and persevere until they are accomplished.

It does means cultivating a mindset lead by your deliberate choices rather than by your negative emotions, bad habits, or the sway of others who do not have your necessarily have the same desires as you. Self-discipline allows you to reach your goals in a reasonable time frame and to live a more orderly and satisfying life.

How To Develop Self-Discipline
it’s best to start with small steps, because no new process takes place overnight. Just as it takes time to build muscle, so does it take time to develop self-discipline? The more you train and build it, the stronger you become. In exercise, if you try to do too much at once, you risk injuring yourself and setting yourself back. Likewise, take it one step at a time in building self-discipline, begin by making the decision to go forward and learning what it takes to get there.

Learn what motivates you and what your negative triggers are and this begins by learning about yourself! Sometimes it is very difficult to fight off urges and cravings, so identify the areas where your resistance is low and how to avoid those situations. If you know you can’t resist cake, fries, or other temptations – stay away from them, do not have them around to lure you into moments of weakness. If you also know that putting pressure on yourself does not work for you, then set yourself up in an environment that encourages the building of self-discipline rather than one that sabotages it. Remove the temptations and surround yourself with soothing and encouraging items such as motivating slogans and pictures of what you want to achieve.

Learn also what energises and motivates you. Your willpower can go up and down with your energy levels so play energetic music to perk you up, move around, and laugh. Train yourself to enjoy what you are doing by being energised as this will make it easier to implement desirable and appropriate behaviours into your daily routine – which is really what self-discipline is all about.

Make the right behaviours a routine. Once you have decided what’s important to you and which goals to strive for, establish a daily routine that will help you achieve them. For example, if you want to eat healthily or lose weight; resolve to eat several servings of lean protein and green vegetables each day and exercise for at least half an hour.

Make it part of your daily routine and part of your self-discipline building. Likewise, get rid of some of your bad, self-defeating habits, whatever they may be. They can put you in a negative frame of mind and hinder your self-discipline. A poor attitude is also a self destructive bad habit.

Practice Self-Denial

Learn to say no to some of your feelings, impulses and urges. Train yourself to do what you know to be right, even if you don’t feel like doing it. Skip dessert some evenings. Limit your TV watching. Resist the urge to yell at someone who has irritated you. Stop and think before you act. Think about the consequences. When you practice self-restraint it helps you develop the habit of keeping other things under control.

Engage in Sports or Other Physical Activities

Sports are an excellent way to enhance self- discipline. They train you to set goals, they focus your mental energy and exercises you emotional energies, enables you to become physically fit, and teaches you to get along well with others by working as part of a team. Participating in sports provides a situation where you learn to work hard and strive to do your best, which in turn, teaches you to integrate the same the thought processes and disciplines into your everyday life.

Learning to play a musical instrument can be another great way to practice self-discipline. The focus, repetition, and application required in learning to play an instrument is invaluable. Achieving self-discipline in any one area of your life re-programs your mind to choose what is right, rather than what is easy.

Create Your Mindset for Self-Discipline

Get inspiration from those you admire. There are so many inspirational people i the world today and from throughout history. read books by or about these people and draw inspiration from them. Sporting greats such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Gary player. Great leaders throughout history; Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill. Philosophers such as Aristotle who said:

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

Visualise the Rewards

There is nothing more gratifying than accomplishing your goals. Practice the technique that high achievers and top athletes do and practice projecting yourself in to the future with your imagination. Visualise your desired outcome. See how your life can be different, hear how differently you talk about your self and how others do, feel how rewarding it is and the countless benefits you will enjoy. Remind yourself what it takes to get there.

The Benefits
It helps build self-confidence.
You accomplish more, and are therefore more productive.
You are able to maintain a higher tolerance for frustration, obstacles and negative emotions.
Allows you to obtain better health, better finances and a good work ethic.
You are able to reach your most difficult goals more efficiently.
The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets.
If we are to be masters of our own destiny, we must develop self-discipline and self-control. By focusing on long-term benefits instead of short-term discomfort, we can encourage ourselves to develop of self-discipline. Ultimately our health and happiness depend on it.

If you would like to join my online goal setting workshop group then drop me an email on simon@simonmaryan.com and take advantage of a free 20 minute strategy session with me and find out how you can build your self discipline and achieve your goals.

Here’s to your increased success, health and happiness

Simon

Create The Life you Want


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Every now and again life bares it’s teeth and bites you in the arse with them and that’s ok, because it gives you an opportunity to prove to yourself that you are made of tougher stuff, you are bolder, you are braver than you realised and that you can achieve so much more.

Today is a new day and a fresh opportunity to make a bold move in your life!! How you approach today makes all the difference in how it ends, it is your mindset, your attitude, your perceptions that make it what it is. So, face it with courage, faith in yourself and a can-do attitude and make a choice to create a shift in your health, career, relationships, and all those decisions in your life that you have been putting off.

We all need a dream yet when you have a dream that doesn’t need any help from others, then your dream is not big enough! Dream big and look for help and support from like minded people that can help you grow and shift up to the next level. Work for your own success not someone else’s, there are plenty of people doing that already!

When you commit to being a powerful force for good, for yourself as well as other people and a positive agent of change in the world, you will be surprised at what can happen. Have some fun and expand your capacity to dream, believe, create and learn to say no, no way, and no thank-you to requests that steal your time and the ability to choose and create a more expansive future for yourself. Life is way to short and precious to allow that to happen in your life.

So get up, wake up and get out of your own way and refuse to replay a past that you can not relive or change, or a future that you can not see or control. Be present, grounded and decide to create a life that you love! You deserve to be happy and enjoy your life.

Keys To Successful Fatloss Part 2: Self Perception


The Effects of Cortisol On our Mind and Body


Depression

Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.

I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.

This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.

I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.

The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.

So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.

STRESS
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

You can find research papers here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?

Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:

1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol.  A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.

I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.

Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.

If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.

2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.

Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.

3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.

Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”

To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.

In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.

Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age.  Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.

The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.

4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.

5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.

Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.

When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.

PH Range

Conclusion
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.

In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable