A New Riverside Retreat Location for A Little Holistic Oasis 16.8.2021
I know that many people have re-evaluated their lives during the pandemic and, my husband and I are no exception. We came to a realisation that we needed to make some changes which would improve the quality of our lives, but never did I envisage selling up our house and moving onto a houseboat.
In March 2021, we moved, with our two cats, Benny and Bea, onto our boat located next to Kingston Bridge on the River Thames. I will admit that it took me a few weeks to settle. Selling our house that we had lived in for 13 years was a huge challenge for me, and I couldn’t help but think we had made a huge mistake... What was the universe thinking?
Despite my initial reticence about boat dwelling, I have seen the light and, where I saw doubt, I now see a myriad of opportunity. My therapy room is twice the size of my last treatment space with bifold doors onto a large deck where I can sit and read and meditate. It is flooded with natural light, with views over the Thames with its ever changing scenery. We are surrounded by a constant stream of swans, ducks, and geese and, we even have a resident heron.
My clients love the uniqueness of this new river view location. The view, the gentle lull of the boat and the opportunity to be so close to nature. When they arrive, we catch up whilst feeding the swans and the geese – a beautiful way to start the appointment and a lovely way to start grounding and bring ourselves into the moment.
I already provide a diverse range of therapies but I now have the space to run small group workshops. Later in the year, I will be training to be a Mindfulness Teacher, so I plan to run workshops in Mindfulness, Stress Management and Resilience – the perfect location to be stress-free.
Never in a million years, did I see this move happening. It has changed our lives, definitely for the better. We live in the moment much more – as a way of life and, despite my initial doubts, I understand that the universe does have my back after all.
Stress or Opportunity? You Choose. June- 3-2020
In challenging times, especially like now, as we gradually begin to move back out into the world .. with people .. and adapt to a new way of living due to the Covid-19 pandemic, stress can be found at the forefront of people’s minds, but the harmful effects of stress are not inevitable and, by employing some skillful navigation of life events and, modifying the way that you think and behave, you can successfully transform your experience of stress, and thrive.
Change can be difficult to navigate, especially if the messages are confusing. It can be tempting to shut yourself away and not go out. We do, however, need to return to some kind of normality, even if it is a somewhat different normality. Acceptance of the current situation is paramount, otherwise we would never leave the house. Arm yourself with the information and start taking some small tentative steps. Take it all at your pace and do what you know to be true.
Physical strategies such as a healthy amount of sleep - 7 - 8 hours per night is ideal, regular exercise, a healthy diet full of different colour fruits and vegetables, plenty of water and adopting healthy breathing techniques, are absolutely paramount in ensuring optimum health. Each of these can be gradually incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits can be seen and felt quite quickly.
Implementing psychological strategies are vital as they are real game changers. Changing the way you think about stress, and turning everything you believe about stress on its head, can change your physical response to it. There is a huge amount of research into the psychology of stress and the connection between mind and body and, the crux of the matter is that, if you believe stress is going to harm you - it probably will.
My top 5 game changers in fostering resilience:
Change your perception of stress.
Connecting to the motivation behind your stress can help you to determine whether your response is helpful or appropriate. Recognising your stress as a challenge or motivation instead of a threat, alters your physical and psychological response to a more positive outcome, boosting your energy and performance and reducing anxiety and depression.
Research shows that those who experience stress, but do not view it as harmful, are likely to be healthier and live longer so, altering your mindset to stress is important in changing how your body and mind responds to it.
Letting go of negative emotions.
There is an inextricable link between emotions and health. Harbouring long held negative emotions, such as simmering resentments, frustrations, guilt or jealousy, is very draining energetically, undermining your physical and mental health.
The release of difficult feelings and practicing forgiveness, kindness and compassion is very healing. It decreases anxiety and depression and, can boost your energy and immune system, increasing feelings of happiness.
Shift your focus.
Our primal instinct is designed to look for the negative or danger in a situation - in the past it was that very instinct that kept us alive. However, that constant negative focus does not serve us well in today’s world.
Research in neuroscience has demonstrated that it is possible to rewire the brain, so your thoughts and beliefs are not, as previously thought, set in stone. Practicing gratitude is a successful method of retraining the brain to look for the positives. By writing down 3-5 things that you are grateful for, every morning for 21 days, it is possible to reframe your thoughts and beliefs, and achieve improved physical and psychological outcomes.
Foster social connection.
Forging connection to others especially in times of challenge stimulates the “cuddle” hormone Oxytocin in yourself and those that you are connected to. It activates the replenishing emotions of caring, kindness and empathy so, helping others, listening, talking, giving a hug and volunteering, are all ways of seeking positive connection. In times of social distancing, virtual connection and helping others can have the same effect.
Mindfulness is a well-researched and successful tool that allows you to let go of worries and anxieties by bringing your focus to the present moment, with acceptance and without judgment.
Children to CEOs now practice mindfulness for the beneficial physical and psychological outcomes that it yields. It is like flexing a muscle, it gets stronger the more you practice. Just 5 – 10 minutes/day of mindfulness practice is all it takes to start replenishing your energy, and boosting productivity, resilience and personal growth.
STRESS - THE UNSEEN ENEMY WITHIN?Nov-18-18
MY MOST STRESSFUL ENCOUNTER....
Ironically, one of my most stressful encounters was when I was training to become a Stress Management Trainer with The Stress Management Society. I knew that I was going to have to deliver a 20 minute presentation on the second day to be able to progress through the accreditation process.
I was terrified. Despite my desire to become a trainer, I had spent the best part of 35 years avoiding teaching and training. I had turned down 3 teaching posts in the past - I felt completely fearful and utterly unable to confront this terror of public speaking - but here I was, facing it, but not well.
The day before my 20 minute presentation, when I was asked how I was feeling about it, I noted that all the other trainees were seemingly quietly confident and meanwhile, I was quaking in my boots. Those familiar symptoms of stress and anxiety. The overload of adrenaline and cortisol coursing through my veins- increased heart rate, hearing the increase in blood pressure rushing through my ears, and, feeling the banging in my chest - BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!!
Tension in my neck and shoulder muscles, intense headache, gritted teeth, clenched jaw and the need to want to run!
Now this, in reality was a presentation. I was not being chased by a lion or living in a warzone, but my physical .. and emotional response was the same! This turmoil was about something that was happening the next day! It was my own perception of what was going to happen. This was exactly that - my perception of a situation - not a reality.
And .. that is a key observation in how stress works. The stress response is a physical .. and an emotional response to our own perception of an event. Our own brains can trick us into reacting to something that may .. or may not happen. We can feel as if we are the only ones going through this apprehension and dizzying pandemonium going on inside us and, it can be very isolating.
I did nearly walk away from my training - making excuses in my head at why it was acceptable to walk away from 2 days of training and a sizeable financial outlay. You know those conversations you have with yourself. "It isn't what I wanted to do anyway", or "I never really wanted to train - I thought I did but it's not for me".
However, I was talked into sleeping on it and staying on for the presentations the next day. I reluctantly agreed and appeared the next day. I had managed 2 hours of sleep, couldn't eat breakfast, lost my voice - it is amazing the physical manifestations that our minds can conjure up for us. There was absolutely nothing physically wrong with me, but because my brain told me I couldn't do it, my voice mysteriously disappeared. There was no going back - I had to do it - voice or no voice!
Out of 6 of us to present, we drew straws - and I was 6th! Well, what can I say - I did it .. and did it brilliantly! Actually, that would be an exaggeration of the truth. More realistically, I did it and did it …. okay! Well, more of a mediocre attempt really.
It took me 3 attempts to get it absolutely right - by then, I was like - "Just get it done .. and I did it and I did it well! It was, however, the first time I came across the acronym FAIL - or - First Attempt In Learning, and the realisation dawned on me that that was exactly what I was doing - LEARNING.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect from the beginning, that we don't give ourselves time to learn. I have such a clearer understanding of what I am trying to achieve at A Little Holistic Oasis now than I did 4 years ago, due to my desire to learn, understand and provide the best solutions to my client that I can.
Four years on, I have faced my fears, been on my own discovery of personal development. I am now a Stress Management and Resilience Trainer and Coach, as well as being a therapy and wellbeing provider. I help those with the same issues that I have had.. and overcome.
Do I still get nervous before a presentation? YES, I do - but I understand how I can channel the stress energy and reframe it into challenge and excitement .. and success.