nature sunset fashion people
stress

Why stress messes with your hormones

The number one cause of hormonal imbalance is stress.

Not age, not genetics, not a bad roll of the dice.

Stress – mental, emotional, and physical – can dramatically shift your hormone levels independent of all those other factors. 

It all comes down to something which we, in functional medicine, call ‘the cortisol steal’

In reality, cortisol doesn’t ‘steal’ anything.

It’s simply a way of describing how the body prioritises making cortisol over other important hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone when you are going through a stressful time.

This has disastrous consequences for anyone dealing with a hormone-related issue such as menopause, PMS or anxiety.

The worst part is that when you get the ‘diagnosis’ of menopause, PMS etc. you probably immediately start googling ways to deal with your issue.

But you kind of forget to factor in the stress.

Maybe because stress has become such an integral part of your life that you start to see it as part of your personality?

If you ever describe yourself as ‘stressy’, a ‘worrier’ or an ‘over-thinker’, you have got a problem.

You weren’t born that way.

Instead, you have developed a range of unhealthy habits and behaviours that result in high levels of everyday stress.

Your focus should be on changing your lifestyle and behaviours in order to reduce the amount of cortisol being produced by your adrenal glands.

This gives your body a chance to produce adequate levels of the other hormones needed for a healthy balance.

I explain it all in this week’s video 👇

And if you need help putting together your own personal stress management plan and FINALLY achieve the ideal work/life balance, well….. you know where to find me.

(Duration 3:28 min. Hit CC for subtitles)

positive young african american lady holding light bulb in hand on gray background
stress

Want a stress resilient brain?

The relationships between our thoughts, our biology, the world around us and our health and wellbeing are complex.

But keeping your brain healthy and happy so that it’s more capable of dealing with everyday stress triggers doesn’t have to be difficult.

Neuroscience has provided a great deal of insights into what it takes to build a brain that is capable of dealing effectively with pressure and adversity.

So if you want a more stress resilient brain, here are 4 steps that you can take straight away:

Prioritise sleep. Sleep deprivation (like the one you might have after a late night celebrating the win of the #lionesses in the #euro2022 🥳), impacts on your ability to think clearly, solve problems and recall information. So make sure that you get an early night tonight

Move. Being physically active increases blood flow to the brain and brings fresh oxygen to your brain cells. Maybe take a quick walk around the block when you’re done watching my video? Just 10 minutes can make a real difference to your wellbeing

Find your moments of calm. Get your diary out for this week. Identify a daily time block of 15 minutes. Book the slot for me-time. Meditate, practice mindfulness or self-hypnosis (if you need something pre-recorded, make sure to check out my online self-hypnosis programme). Alternatively, simply take a nap (see point 1 above). The brain needs down-time. Make it happen

Challenge your brain by learning something new. If your work isn’t intellectually stimulating and pushes you out of your cognitive comfort zone, the time has come for you to take up a new hobby. Tai Chi is an excellent activity which calms you, helps you to focus and gets you out of the house to meet new people if you go to your local sports or community centre. Try it. Your brain will thank you for it

Here’s an easy Tai Chi programme that I found on YouTube

What do you think?

Are you willing to give it a go?

woman in white shirt showing frustration
stress

Find your stress triggers

It’s important that you know how to find your stress triggers.

Stress triggers are situations, events or, very commonly, thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable to the extent that you want to attack the thing that’s upset you or run away from it.

That’s what commonly known as the fight or flight response

Recent research indicates that the top 3 stress triggers in the UK are financial problems, work demands and personal relationships. 

But you do know how to find YOUR stress triggers?

This week, I’d like to take you through a short scoring exercise to help you find your stress triggers.

You need a pen and paper.

And then I’d like for you to score these five areas in terms of whether they are causing you little/ no stress or a lot of stress:

  1. Money
  2. Work
  3. Personal Relationships
  4. Health
  5. Meaning & Purpose

Simply follow along with the video and see how you get on.

Once you’ve got your scores and identified your stress triggers, feel free to get in touch and share your thoughts and I’ll send you a few tips on how to address the issue that’s troubling you.

I’d love to hear from you.

question marks on paper crafts
stress

What are Socratic questions?

In my previous blog, I told you how Socratic questions can help you to support someone who’s suffering from chronic stress.

Today, we use Socratic questioning in therapy and coaching and the aim is to engage and elicit a detailed understanding of the situation or problem that the client is facing.

You can use Socratic questioning to help someone close to you to get unstuck but you can also use the technique to question yourself.

Why bother?

Because it’s a well-known fact that you often can’t see the wood for the trees.

When we are tangled up in a stressful situation, we fail to see all the different aspects and we lack perspective. Whilst to others there seem to be a range of options and solutions, we ourselves have no idea how to move forward and we feel stuck.

So why not try these questions:

  1. What’s contributing to your current sense of unhappiness/stress/anxiety/frustration… (this is a Socratic question used for clarification)?
  2. What assumptions are you making (ALWAYS question your assumptions; the brain has a nasty habit of filling in the blanks when you don’t have the full picture)?
  3. Is there an alternative point of view which may be just as valid (Socrates was always pushing for his pupils to look at a situation through a different lens)?
  4. What are the long-term implications of acting or not acting on your current sense of unhappiness/stress/anxiety/frustration…? 

This last question is my absolute favourite.

When I find myself procrastinating on making a decision, writing down my thoughts on implications of action vs inaction usually helps me straight away.

Procrastination is a major stress trigger so this is a good tool to have in your toolbox.

I go through it all in this week’s video.

I hope you like it

hands people friends communication
stress

How to help someone with chronic stress

Usually, I dedicate this blog to self-help techniques so that you can break free from stress and return to the smiling human that you used to be.

This time, however, I’ve decided to help you to help others.

We are currently experiencing unprecedented high levels of stress across the nation and I need you to join the effort to address the issue.

You probably know someone who’s suffering from chronic stress.

If you don’t know how to determine whether it’s chronic stress, simply pay attention to whether they are expressing pessimistic views about three areas in particular:

  1. Themselves (“I can’t do anything about this”, “I don’t have what it takes”)
  2. The world (“everything sucks”, “there’s never any good news”)
  3. The future (“it’s never going to change”, “it won’t make any difference”)

When people express pessimism in these three areas, we’re dealing with the cognitive triad. The cognitive triad model was developed by Aaron Beck to help with the diagnosis and treatment of depression but it works just as well with chronic stress.

Now that you’re clear on the signs, I recommend that you help your friend/ family member/ colleague in the following ways:

  1. Get them to seek professional help. They’ll initially refuse as “it won’t make any difference” (see above) so stick with it. A visit to the GP for a medical check-up can be a powerful catalyst for change.
  2. Get them moving (physically and metaphorically). Explain that science proves that physical activity as well as doing fun activities have been evidenced to lower stress. It would be preferable if you join them in these activities. Everything is more enjoyable when you aren’t doing it alone.
  3. Think (and speak) like a coach or therapist. Offer acknowledgement and encouragement. You can use Socratic questioning (google it) to help them to get unstuck. Nobody likes to be told what to do so by gently questioning the validity of their assumptions, you will have more luck in getting them unstuck.

Does that sound like something that you can do?

Enjoy the video ❤️

(Duration 4:02 minutes. Hit CC for subtitles)

person standing near lake
stress

Stress Management For Introverts

Today’s society is primarily geared towards extroverts.

As a result, many of the activities that are suggested online for how to manage stress can fail to hit the mark for those who prefer solitude to a busy exercise class.

But introversion can be a bit of a superpower in an increasingly noisy and overstimulated world.

This week’s video explores how an introvert can use their natural tendency to withdraw as a way to manage stress as we look at three different techniques that can help you to relax:

  1. Me time
  2. Journaling and
  3. Hygge

Please let me know if you find it useful.

(Duration: 3:48 minutes. Hit CC for subtitles)

woman wearing white shirt eating watermelon
stress

How mindful eating can improve digestion

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘you are what you eat’; meaning that if you eat healthy food, you’ll live in a healthy body.

But there’s more to healthy eating than what’s on your plate.

Many of my coaching clients have digestive problems: IBS, bloated stomach, trapped wind, nausea.

This is because there’s a strong link between stress and the digestive system.

When your stress goes up, your digestion slows down.

As a result, your weight and general health is impacted.

So this week, I’ll share with you a stress hack that’ll help you to improve, and in some cases totally eliminate, your digestive problems and change the way you eat forever.

You’ll soon understand that you aren’t just WHAT you eat.

You are HOW you eat.

We call it Mindful Eating.

I hope you find this video helpful.

(Duration: 4.04 minutes. Hit CC for subtitles)

possible written on a chalkboard
stress

Beat procrastination with TIC TOC

I’m not in the mood….

I’ll do it later….

We’ve all done it.

Decided that now is not a good time to start a task and that it can wait until we feel more motivated.

We procrastinate. And now we feel like a failure.

And if there’s one single behaviour which is guaranteed to send you into stress state and wreck your life, it’s procrastination.

Let me share with you a simple technique for beating both procrastination and stress. My stress coaching clients all love this one.

It’s called the TIC TOC Technique.

TIC stands for Task Interfering Cognitions

TOC stands for Task Oriented Cognitions

It’s a simple way to turn procrastination into motivation.

All you have to do is change the way you think – one cognition at a time.

It takes less than 5 minutes.

Let’s dive in. I think you’ll like this ❤️

crop ethnic client discussing problems with anonymous psychologist
stress

What is Stress Coaching?

Feeling stressed is something we all experience from time to time.

Perhaps a situation or event is causing stress, or maybe it’s our reaction to something that’s making us feel overwhelmed.

Whatever the reason, stress affects us all.

For some of us, however, it’s a recurring problem that, over time, can seriously impact our health and well-being.

There are lots of ways we can learn to cope with stress better, including developing emotional resilience and introducing more rest and relaxation into our routines and it’s important to find something that works for you.

This may mean making lifestyle changes and using self-help techniques or it may mean getting professional support from a stress coach.

How coaching can help with stress

The aim of a coach is to offer you a sense of space, reflection and clarity.

When it comes to stress, my aim is to help you understand the root causes, rather than to ‘fix’ the symptoms.

This is done through a series of conversations where I will ask questions to help you gain understanding, and offer insights or reflections you may not have considered.

Having someone unbiased and unconnected to any other areas of your life to talk to about stress can help you process your feelings in a safe environment, without judgement.

I can also help you come up with strategies and coping techniques to reduce stress and cope better with it when it arises.

This may include learning relaxation skills, journaling techniques or even meditation.

Understanding what is causing you to feel stressed means you can change habits and behaviours that lead to the stress – for example, boundary setting and saying ‘no’ more.

I will guide you through these changes, offering support the entire way.

Sometimes, we can’t control what stressful events are going to happen to us.

By working with a coach, you can develop your emotional resilience so you’re better able to cope. So often it’s not the event itself that’s stressful, but our reaction to it.

Why not get in touch today to experience your first free coaching conversation and free yourself from stress and anxiety?

All sessions are delivered on Zoom.

woman wearing white shirt laying on bed
stress

How to put yourself into trance

In my last newsletter, I gave a quick introduction to the process of self hypnosis.

If you missed it, you might want to check it out before reading on ☝️

Whilst it is easy to learn, there’s still a process to follow in order to promote this powerful learning state that we call hypnosis.

I quite like to use the PIRATE formula to remind myself of what’s involved:

P stands for ‘privacy’. You need somewhere quiet and comfortable where you won’t be disturbed for 20 minutes.

I stands for ‘intention’. What do you want to achieve through your self hypnosis practice? Unlike meditation, self-hypnosis has a goal. Maybe you want to get rid of a bad habit, improve your self confidence or have the ability to remain calm in even the most stressful of situations? Get clear on your intention before you start.

R stands for ‘relaxation’. You need to be deeply relaxed in order for self hypnosis to work. This is where the induction comes in.

A stands for ‘actualisation’. We also call this step the hypnosis deepener. It’s important that you get yourself into a deep trance so that you can let your unconscious mind get to work. Nothing is more disruptive to inner transformation than mind chatter. So we need to go deep.

T stands for ‘transformation’. Once you have entered your self-induced deep trance, you can start to focus on the change that you want to make. You will have formulated a powerful change mantra as part of the intention stage and you can now put into play your auto-suggestions.

E stands for exit. One way to exit trance is to simply count backwards from 10 to 1 telling yourself that you’ll be fully awake and feeling great when your reach 1. Alternatively, you can set a timer or simply let it happen automatically. You cannot get stuck in trance and you will exit self-hypnosis by yourself once you have reached peak state.

What do you think?

Do you believe that you’d be able to do this?

Self-hypnosis is a powerful technique for reducing stress and it has been evidenced to be effective for a range of other purposes:

  • alleviating pain
  • building confidence and self-esteem
  • overcoming sleep disorders
  • breaking bad habits
  • achieving goals
  • removing self-limiting beliefs
  • improving performance
  • losing weight
  • reducing anxiety and depression

If you’d like to learn all the basics of self-hypnosis, I’d love to see you on Saturday 2 July for my virtual Self-Hypnosis Masterclass.

This is a small intimate class where we meet on Zoom to work on removing whatever is holding you back in life.

Please check out the details and register for free here.

For a quick demo of a self-hypnosis induction, please watch the video below.

Each induction will take 5 – 10 minutes in real life. My demo is a very speedy version just so that you can get an idea of what we’re talking about.

If you try this at home, please give yourself enough time to feel the effects.

(Duration: 4:53 minutes. Hit CC for subtitles)