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What anxiety has taught me.

I remember the first time I realised that I had anxiety. I was driving to pick my son up from school after a sports fixture, I was on the M1 and it was the middle of winter, the roads were dark and I started to realise I was feeling very anxious and stressed for no obvious reason. I had a feeling of dread and fear, it was almost impossible to breathe. I started to sweat profusely and could feel my heart racing at what felt like an unsustainable rate. It didn’t help when I came off the motorway onto my exit which was even darker and a lot more frightening. I prayed, I trembled but my anxiety seemed to be getting worse.

I made the decision to call a friend (on handsfree) and thankfully she picked up. My plan had been to tell her what was happening to me but luckily for me, we moved quickly into an intense conversation regarding something else and I got completely distracted and was able to complete the drive safely. That was one of the first lessons I later came to learn about my anxiety. It can be eased if I find a way to truly distract myself. This lesson did not come in useful till much later, when I understood my anxiety better.

After that episode, I started to have more similar episodes and eventually I realised my anxiety had been triggered by a series of traumatic events but the anxiety around motorways and driving in the car was as a result of a very traumatic event I had suffered while visiting family in Nigeria.

My then husband and I were returning back home after a night out with friends when we were robbed at gunpoint. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I had a man with a gun resting on my temple on my side of the car, hitting me repeatedly on the head while they demanded everything we had. This had happened on what resembled a motorway, it was very dark with very little lighting on the roads and as a result we did not see the robbers until it was too late.

After we were let go, I was so relieved to be alive that I immediately tried to dismiss this event in my mind as not being that bad, I was just grateful to God that neither of us were killed or sustained any serious injuries and all we had lost was property, I pushed everything else to the back of my mind. The truth I learnt, was that I had never dealt with the trauma of what happened that night and sure enough as trauma does, it showed up in a different way in my behaviour, a form of post traumatic stress.

Fast forward a couple of years later, my mum was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and sadly died a few years later, soon after that I discovered my husband had been unfaithful and that precipitated the disintegration of my marriage.,

So in a few short years, I had suffered a series of serious life events. I later learned that anxiety can also be triggered by (amongst many things) a big traumatic event or a series of smaller stressful life events.

Prior to all of these experiences, I had suffered periods of post natal depression and generally feeling low off and on for years but again never really gave it a name, I now realise like so many other people that end up being diagnosed with depression and or anxiety, I was probably more likely to have these disorders. Research has shown that in addition to biological and environmental factors, there are other factors that can make some people more prone to depression such as a person’s personality, experiences of stress and conflict, genetics, chronic illnesses, etc. to name a few

I suppose my body just could not deal with any more trauma/stress and I suddenly found that myself struggling with high levels of anxiety and depression. My anxiety initially revolved around driving at night, on dark roads, motorways and any thing reminiscent of my first traumatic experience but it gradually extended to other parts of my life and I started to suffer from social anxiety, health anxiety, flying anxiety, intrusive thoughts and many more, of course this also meant I was constantly depressed, struggling to cope with everyday life and to make matters worse started suffering with insomnia, something that is also very common with sufferers of depression and anxiety.

When I finally sought help, I was initially referred for counselling. I would see a counsellor once a week. I found the whole experience very unpleasant, usually ended up leaving the counsellor in a worse state than when I went in. My personal experience with counselling was not a good one and I ended up deciding that counselling was not for me. ( More on this this in a separate blog; why counselling does not work for everyone)

My second referral was for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). This had some beneficial aspects for me, I was quite a logical thinker before anxiety and I liked the approach of examining what evidence there was of what I was afraid of but after completing my course of CBT, I was shocked to find out that I still was not cured like I had foolishly imagined I would be.

Fast forward, many years later, counselling skills course, hundreds of self help books, research and study later, I finally realised that my anxiety was not something I could be cured of.

I learnt that once you have anxiety, you will always to some extent be an anxious person but what you can do is to learn how to live with, manage and thrive even with anxiety.

In doing that, I have come to realise that anxiety is sort of, a friend. I do not classify it as an enemy because in some misguided way, it is trying to keep me safe from the things it believes will cause me pain or harm by constantly reminding me of the danger it foresees in me doing those things reminiscent of past traumas e.g. driving down a dark lonely road

Unfortunately, the downside to this is that if I listen to my anxiety, I may end up avoiding all of the the good stuff too. E.g. my social anxiety or fear of driving stops me from long distance driving, motorway driving and any type of driving really because my anxiety reminds me of how dangerous it can be (untrue) and convinces me not to do it. If I listen to my anxiety, I end up not going anywhere and missing out on the possibility of seeing friends, going to parties, meeting new people, broadening my horizons, all things that would actually make me happier in the long run. The other problem with listening to anxiety is that the more you let it win, the harder it becomes to shut out the fear and worry. One of the most important steps you can take in confronting your fears is accepting that life comes with risks and there are no guarantees. Flying is risking, driving is risky, falling in love is risky, having children is risky, in fact everyday is a gift and since there are no guarantees, you are better off accepting that to live life fully and happily, you may need to do some things that feel uncomfortable or scary.

Once you accept this, you can start to retrain your anxiety and speak to it in moments of panic or anxiety or when you are doing something that you would normally avoid. Let it know you are safe and there is nothing to worry about. When I started to do this, it became easier to do the things I was afraid of in spite of my fear. My anxiety is not cured by any means but I am constantly learning what helps and what doesn’t help. I am constantly challenging that anxiety each time it pops up and letting it know I am ok and I want to be more daring. It was doing this that allowed me to do more things and even though I still have anxiety around driving, flying and lots of other things, I am able to feel the fear and do it nonetheless.

Of course, it is useful to be more self aware and identify your triggers and work on your mindset. Being more conscious of your thoughts, the people you are around and the things you are exposed to will be extremely helpful in helping you manage anxiety

So what has my anxiety taught me?

Empathy in large doses, I have become a much more empathetic and sympathetic human as a result of having anxiety. I can relate more to people’s inner battle and I am generally kinder and a lot more tolerant towards other especially being aware that disorders like anxiety and depression can be totally invisible. You may see someone and think they are okay while they are battling depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.

I have also learnt to be kinder to myself and acknowledge that the same empathy that I am now able to show others is something I should also apply to myself. I used to have quite a lot of self dislike because I just did not understand why I kept being depressed or had intrusive thoughts or grappled with OCD but now I know the causes and the issues around my disorder, I am a lot kinder to myself.

Finally, one thing anxiety and depression has shown me is that I need to appreciate life a lot more. When we are not suffering from any of these disorders, we do not realise how beautiful life can be and all the opportunities we miss out on but having anxiety has really allowed me to appreciate the good days so much more and even though being on the edge and constantly being worried about something happening to me is not pleasant, it also encourages me to live life as fully and as completely as I possibly can.

if you are struggling with any of the issues that I have talked about in this blog, please ask for help. Talking with others has been one of the best things I have ever done but of course reaching out for help also means you will be able to learn strategies to manage and live fully inspite of your anxiety.

Charities such as MIND, The Samaritans, Mental Health UK, SANE all have help lines and have teams of people that you can chat to.

I am always happy to help too. Please message me via any of my socials or by email to tayokutiwrites@gmail.com for an informal chat. I offer 1:1 support and coaching with anxiety and mindset.

Tayo xoxo

What if you don’t know how to be happy?

Being happy has always seemed to be the thing that us humans chased the most. The way in which we chose to try and find happiness is different for everyone but we all want to be happy. Scientists have studied the topic for years, how can we find happiness?, is there a path or a formula for being happy? The fact that this question has never been fully answered tells us that it is a difficult and perhaps some would say impossible question to answer because what we define as happiness differs for everyone.

So perhaps we need to pose a different question and instead ask “how can we live a good life?”.

This puts a bit more context onto the issue of us finding our happy place and some fulfillment which is something that interests me more, I have always felt and believed that instead of happiness, what we really need is contentment. The reason, I prefer to look at happiness from the lens of contentment or living well is that contentment is much easier for us to define and put into words. Also as a coach, it is much easier for me to help people work out what they need to be content than finding the unique combination that will give them happiness.

The truth is that for many of us, we don’t really know what we need to be happy and for others, we don’t know how to be happy. This is because happiness by definition is a transient emotion, that can be here one moment and gone the next. We cannot be happy all the time and truth be told we should not be happy all the time. Our emotions can be very varied depending on not just what is happening around us but also our own unconscious biases and perception. This is why being able to regulate our emotions is very important. Emotions can be unreliable, fickle and transient. This is why making one particular emotion our goal is in itself a futile exercise.

So apart from the fickleness of emotion and the difficulty in knowing what makes us happy, we can also have people that do not know how to be happy. There are reasons why happiness may seem elusive such as;

  • Having depression and anxiety; both of these disorders can leave you feeling a sense of dread and feeling like something bad is about to happen which makes it difficult for you to enjoy anything
  • Spending too much time in the past dwelling on things that went wrong and your failures can leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and unable to see the positives in anything
  • You let your emotions control you. As its famously said, you cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react to what happens to you. As I mentioned above, emotions can be fickle and unreliable so we need to learn how to regulate and manage our emotions so we can live more happily
  • You’ve lost track of who you truly are and what you like. This is common when you’ve been in a long term relationship, have been taking care of others for long periods of time or you’ve spent a long time pleasing other people. You don’t know who you are and cannot identify what makes you happy. In order to find what makes you happy, you have to spend time alone and learn to rediscover your true self. This requires learning how to be okay with solitude and loving your own company
  • You don’t know how to be mindful. Mindfulness is about living in the present moment and making the most of each day you have without worrying about the past or overthinking the future.

I remember when my anxiety and depression were at an all time high and people (trying to help me) would tell me to just be happy. Be happy, focus on your kids, don’t spend time worrying about what you cannot change, move on, and all the rest of that rah rah self help talk. The problem was I didn’t have a clue how to be happy and to be honest, I had spend so much time being a mom and wife, I had lost track of who I really was.

I tried my best to be happy but it just didn’t work because at that time, I thought “something” or “someone” would make me happy but of course I learnt that it wasn’t about what I bought or had or was given or whether I was alone or with someone, in fact, I learnt I couldn’t find happiness through anyone or anything. My happiness was dependent on my mindset and the way I looked at life.

What I learnt and would like to share with you is that, if I wanted to be happy, I needed to first learn how to be content no matter what life threw at me and the only way to learn contentment was to develop some essential mindset attributes, this meant cultivating a positive mindset.

I also realised that I needed to develop and work on attributes such as gratitude, kindness, selflove, wisdom, learning to love myself, learning how to be mindful, learning how to deal with anxiety and worry, being part of a loving community, finding my anchor, having good quality friendships, taking care of my healthy and living an authentic life. I cover all of these and how to attain them in my book Screaming helps.

The truth is that even when we constantly hear that money or possessions do not buy happiness, there is a part of us that doesn’t want to believe this. How many times do people say yes, I’d rather be miserable and rich than miserable and poor?.

The truth is finding out how to accept our “lot” and learning to find our PURPOSE in life is the only thing that paves the path to a life that makes us happy. Our search for our purpose is not about making 6 figures or being famous, but its about finding that thing which we love but also involves elements of compassion and service.

When we learn how to serve others and do what we truly love, we develop so many attitudes and skills which are really the key to healthy living. Attitudes such as gratitude, mindfulness, being authentic which automatically means loving ourselves as we are, living our truth, having the courage to face challenges, not worrying about what others think about us. Of course, I am not saying these are automatic gifts that we are given when we find our purpose, but what i know is that when you find your purpose or your thing, you are prepared to put in the mindset work, the self love work, the self confidence work and “all the things” needed because suddenly everything makes a lot more sense and there is something to work towards. Also when you are in this space, you are going to attract the right people to yourself which kind of brings us back to the recent study done by Harvard.

This was the longest and one of the largest studies done on happiness. The study followed over 700 men for almost 80 years to find out if they could answer the question as to how to live a good life. The answers were interesting but revealed what many of us already know or are realising.

There were three main conclusions from the data; 1) Social connections are good for us and loneliness kills, 2) the quality of your close relationships matter and 3) good relationships protect our bodies and our brains.

You can watch the TED talk on YouTube here What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger – YouTube

Another article from the Blue zones website, highlighted the importance of having a purpose in life. The article stated “In the blue zones regions of the world, having a purpose has always played a major role in well-being and the resulting extreme longevity seen in this areas of the world (Blue zones are geographical locations in the world that features people who have the highest rates of longevity). It continues, it is also believed that the strong sense of purpose possessed may act as a buffer against stress and help reduce overall inflammation. in turn lowering the chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s, arthritis and strokes.

In my work as a mindset coach, I work with people who recognise the need for a mindset shift so they can find out who they really want to be. If you would like to learn more about how to work with me or you just want an informal chat, feel free to contact me via email or through any of my social accounts and if I could give you some advice to help you learn how to be content and lean into your purpose, it would be this; 1) focus on the good things in your life, learn from but don’t dwell on your mistakes and failures, take it one day at a time and 2) learn to love yourself.

Tayo xoxo

Why you should start journaling

Remember when you were a child and you had a diary and would write down all your little secrets about what you and your best friend got up to? Well that little diary was a form of journaling and is something that has far more benefits for us as adults than many people realise.

In recent years, a lot more research has been done on the benefits of journaling and the findings are pretty amazing. Journaling is a superstar when it comes to helping us manage our emotions in a positive manner. In a study done in 2006, journaling was found to reduce symptoms of people with depression, anxiety and hostility

Journaling simply refers to the act of writing down or keeping a diary about your thoughts and the everyday events of your lives including what may be going wrong or right.

This simple act has been found to be extremely powerful for helping individuals deal with conflict, reduce stress and manage difficult emotions

In particular, when it comes to conditions such as depression and anxiety, journaling can work wonders.

I started journaling reluctantly in 2018 after a friend of mine suggested it to me during a very difficult and stressful time in my life. I did it reluctantly because I had this fear of someone finding my journal and reading all my innermost thoughts and the thought of that used to put me off. I eventually overcame that fear and started to write down my thoughts and feelings from day to day, my emotions around certain events, feelings of anger and hurt, basically I wrote down anything and everything that came to mind.

What I found from doing this is I had more clarity of mind, less emotional baggage and I started to feel much more at ease with myself. I also felt less encumbered, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had discovered the power of journaling.

I went from strength to strength at that point, writing down inspirational verses from books I was reading or the bible and my interpretation of what I read and how it impacted me. This became the beginnings of my foray into writing. Before I knew it, I was addicted to writing.

One day I sat and read through my journal and was startled to see how meaningful, helpful and uplifting it was and that moment of realisation, that day was the day I decided I was going to write a book loosely formed from the writings I had done in my journal.

My book “Screaming helps” was published in 2019 and the whole journey of writing it has been an amazing experience for me, so much so, I am in the process of writing a second book. Of course, after this experience, I am a complete convert to journaling and I believe it forms an essential part of a robust self care package.

If you’ve never journaled, a great way to sample this form of expression is to try using the Pandemic Project website. A resource created by Psychology researchers to help people explore their challenges, experiences and emotions around Covid-19 and the Pandemic.

Otherwise, you can easily buy a notebook or a custom designed journal and start your own journey of journaling.

If you want to know why you should journal, I share below some surprising benefits of journaling ;

  1. Writing things down gives you much more clarity about what may be bothering you and helps you to identify more clearly what your problems and challenges are
  2. Helps you to identify negative thought patterns and your triggers
  3. Acts as a tool for self reflection and self evaluation as you can look back over periods of time to see how you have changed
  4. Writing allows you to engage with difficult emotions or experiences
  5. The routine of writing regularly can help you build more structure into your life
  6. Writing can encourage you to take action on things that are bothering you. When we put our thoughts and worries down on paper, they become more real and with the added bonus of clarity we gain from seeing those thoughts, it can help us actually decide what type of action we need to take to improve things in our life.

These are just some of the many reasons that you should start writing your thoughts down. It can be a force for good, forcing you to confront difficult emotions and giving you the opportunity to see what you are grateful for and how you can improve. Although you can buy journals which already have prompts and question that form the basis for your writing, it is also possible for you to decide how and what you want to journal. You can buy a notebook and try your hand out at doing it freestyle and see how you do on a day to day basis. I favour both styles of journaling and I have a journal which I purchased that has prompts and suggestions which I like to use as a formal way of journaling but I also like journaling free style. It really depends on my mood.

I feel that if you are a beginner, it may be useful to have some guidance around what to write but this is of course totally up to you. However, some useful prompts and questions for what to write in your journal for your morning routine include;

  1. What you are grateful for at the start of the day
  2. One thing that you will try to do that day
  3. A positive affirmation
  4. How you will make that day a good one/ good deeds

At the end of the day, prompts can include

  1. What was the best thing about the day
  2. What didn’t go well and how you would improve
  3. What good deed you did that day
  4. What you are grateful for at the end of the day

I hope this article has inspired you to start your own journaling practice today. If you want some more tips and help to get started, feel free to email me at tayokutiwrites@gmail.com

Tayo xoxo

Why your mindset affects everything you do.

Mindset matters. Fact. Whether you realise this or not, the type of mindset you have will affect what type of life you have and what you are able to achieve. Many of us do not realise the importance of our mindset and even many more do not even know what type of mindset they have or how this affects their everyday decisions.

So let’s start there. What is your mindset and why does it matter?

Your mindset is what you believe about yourself and your capabilities. Your mindset is formed from your thoughts and beliefs about life and of course this is shaped by your experiences. Your thoughts will affect how you behave and what you do. Basically your mindset is how you interpret the world and make sense of what goes on in your life from day to day.

So it makes sense that a good mindset means a purposeful and good life and a bad mindset may mean a difficult and more painful life but what does a good mindset and a bad one look like?

How do you work out what type of mindset you have? Well, it starts with asking yourself questions about the things you believe about yourself. Are you open to learning new things, do you give up easily? Do you try to work out how to do something or do you prefer to accept that you are probably too old or not smart enough to do certain things. Questions such as these will start to give you an indication of the sort of mindset you have and once you realise what your mindset is, it is quite easy to see the link between how your mind works and the kind of life you are living.

There are many definitions floating around about mindsets, the one I’d like to explore in this article is the very common themes of the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset.

A fixed mindset is one where an individual is not open to learning new things and where they believe that their intelligence and talent and other qualities are fixed traits that cannot be improved. This normally results in them being unwilling to try and raise their game or to try new things. Someone with a fixed mindset will make statements like “I will never be able to do this”, “Its too late for me to learn this”, “I am going to fail at this so there is no point trying” and so on.

You can see how these sorts of statements can be very limiting and if we truly believe this to be true, we become very convinced about our inability to change, to learn and therefore we may end up not living the life we want, feeling frustrated, demotivated, stuck and unable to discover what we want or what we like. In addition, any attempt at giving constructive criticism to an individual with a fixed mindset is usually met with hostility, they do not take well to any sort of criticism and tend to see it as a personal attack. A person with a fixed mindset may also encounter jealousy or envy when they see others doing well, they constantly compare themselves to other and always find that they feel unworthy.

The growth mindset is the opposite side of the scale and is where an individual is open to learning, to trying new things, to taking risks and is prepared to fail. People with growth mindsets understand that learning and being good at things can develop through hard work and practice. Usually people with a growth mindset will have more resilience and understand that failure is not fatal and that through failing at things, they can learn how to be better.

They also understand that they need to do things over and over again to get good at it. When you believe that your intelligence and your talent can be developed over time, you are always open to new ideas and this is where you will find the lifelong learner who is willing to give things a go. An individual with a growth mindset can accept constructive criticism and sees it as an opportunity to learn and to grow. In addition they are not jealous of other people’s success, instead they use this as their motivation and to fuel their own ambitions.

A positive outlook on learning is crucial to developing oneself and helps to build self esteem and self confidence. Trying out new things and being able to learn and do things you felt were out of your comfort zone will give you the confidence to believe in yourself and your abilities.

So how can we move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

It is important to acknowledge at this point that most people are somewhere in between the two types so what we really want to do is have more of a growth mindset and less of a fixed mindset. There are a number of ways to improve your mindset but the very first step is in acknowledging that you need to do some work. Coming to the realisation and acceptance that you can do with improving your mindset is important before you actually start trying to fix anything.

Here are some of my suggestions for improving your mindset. Even if you find that you are somewhere in the middle between a fixed mindset and growth mindset, it is always useful to continue to do the work that will take you to having more of a growth mindset mentality in all you do.

How to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset;

  • accept that this will take time
  • start shutting down that inner voice that tells you, you cannot do something or you are not good enough
  • remind yourself of your strengths, everyone has things they are good at
  • spend more time around positive people and less time around negative people
  • try out new hobbies that take you outside your comfort zone without any pressure or expectation, e.g. learning to knit or learning to skate etc.
  • accept failure as part of the process and an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work
  • stop comparing yourself to others

Remember that even talented people need to work hard so that they can harness their talent and be better at what they do. Be prepared to work hard, have knockbacks, fail and get going again. If you keep doing that, I guarantee you will see some progress and changes in your life.

xx Tayo

Tayo Kuti is a mindset and life coach. Get in touch with her by email to tayokutiwrites@gmail.com

How to do what seems impossible.

Have you ever had a goal or vision for your life that seemed so huge that you had no idea how to even get started?I have definitely had that feeling before, you look at whatu want to achieve and you have no idea how or where to start.

This is one of the most common reasons why people fail to start working on their goals or fail to meet their goal. That feeling of overwhelm, being stuck and not knowing where to begin can be scary however, being scared does not have to stop you and I have my own formula for attacking big or little goals. Most people use or talk about the acronym “SMART” but I find it a bit overused and sometimes unhelpful so this is how I coach my clients. Examine your mindset. Do you believe in yourself? Are you willing to go all the way even if you think people may not get what you are doing? Will you keep going when it gets hard, when no one seems to care and nothing is happening? Preparing yourself to be in it for the long haul is the first step to success

Examine your motivators. Are they mainly extrinsic(external) or intrinsic (internal) factors. E.g. I want to lose weight so I can get a man or so people can like me is extrinsic. I want to lose weight so I can feel good about myself and have better long term health is intrinsic.  Having goals linked to extrinsic factors can work but inherently they are not linked to sustained and long term success. So you might lose weight in the short term but what happens when you lose weight and you don’t find a man? Finding intrinsic factors to power your goal may help you stay in for the long run

In the 3rd part of the process we put together some of the SMART criteria especially ensuring your goals are specific, measurable and achievable. Wanting to lose weight is not specific but wanting to lose 10 kg in 3 months is specific. Also we need to have realistic expectations when we set goals, expecting to lose 20 kg in a month is unrealistic, expecting to lose 4kg in a month is realistic and definitely possible

Once all of the above are in place, the next piece of the puzzle is to take baby steps. Fear of stepping out and failure can really stop us from doing anything but if we design our plan around taking really small steps that move us away from doing nothing and actually get us in the direction of our goals then we are off to a good start. So now you can set about moving towards your goal by having a plan

I talk about a way to do this in my reels from yesterday. (to see my reels, visit my Instagram page @avoda_wellness I had so much fun messing around with that yesterday and using the speeded up voice, it made me laugh! and that brings me to the final bit of my process…..

5. Have fun! Enjoy the process. 

https://www.instagram.com/avoda_wellness/

Taming the beast that is anxiety.

Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety will understand why I refer to it as a beast, it’s presence in your life can feel large and looming and impossible to tame but I can assure you that having anxiety does not have to be a life sentence of misery, worry and fear. This article will share with you how to tame the symptoms of anxiety and ways to manage and overcome the effects of anxiety so you can get on with the simple act of living your life.

Anxiety is a simple word but the emotions and challenges that it presents when it is present in full blown range is extremely complex hence why I refer to it as a beast. Indeed, there are many that say you can never fully tame anxiety and perhaps that is true but I know you can certainly find a way to manage and live with it and actually having anxiety can have some advantages such as making you more resilient, more empathetic, more strategic in your thinking and planning.

Sometimes, people are unsure as to whether they have anxiety or are simply just overthinkers so here are some of the symptoms of anxiety. They can include but are not restricted to worrying obsessively, panic attacks, feeling nauseous and sweaty, feeling overwhelmed, procrastination, uncontrollable overthinking, depression, racing thoughts which may include feelings of dread, inability to concentrate, irritation, lack of appetite, inability to enjoy anything, feeling that something bad is about to happen all the time, feeling disconnected from or disassociation from yourself. These are just some common symptoms, there are many other symptoms which may point to anxiety. If unsure, please consult your doctor

One of the most common questions I get asked is where does anxiety come from or what causes it?. This can be a difficult question to answer as the causes are varied and it can also be caused by a multitude of factors. However, in general, anxiety is usually caused by some sort of trauma or negative experience that we are not able to get past.

Anxiety will usually be triggered by a big event such as a bereavement or a series of small events such as financial difficulties which get worse over time. It is important to recognise that what causes anxiety in one person may not cause anxiety in another as individuals have different levels of tolerance and resilience and also experience things in different ways. This is why it is very important to not compare your symptoms or the way you feel to someone else just because they have experienced a similar life event to yours. We all deal with trauma differently.

It is also worth noting that there are different types of anxiety e.g. social anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks and many more. I will be speaking in general within the context of this article about generalised anxiety disorder also known as GAD.

Feeling anxious, worried or scared is a normal feeling we get when we are facing something that we are worried about or is new to us such as going for a job interview, meeting new people, walking down a dark alley etc. When we are anxious, our bodies experience a physiological response commonly known as fight or flight. This response was very important for prehistoric man and for humans in general as it helps us to determine whether a situation requires us to flee or to fight and this is supported within the body by the production of a number of hormones primarily adrenaline and cortisol.

It is these hormones that are responsible for the physical symptoms of anxiety such as nausea, feeling faint, heartbeat getting faster, mood elevation, increased blood pressure and many other symptoms. This response is usually self-limiting and once the perceived threat is gone, the body adjusts itself. However, in a person with GAD or other forms of anxiety, their perception of what is dangerous may have become altered through a number of negative experiences and the body may interpret situations that are not dangerous or fearful as such therefore initiating the fight and fight response which will result in the physiological response and production of hormones. Continuous exposure to stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) damages the body and can cause a lot of illness, disease and malfunction.

In addition the fight and flight response in itself is only useful when there is a real threat, when there isn’t one you end up experiencing the quickened heartbeat, nausea, feeling faint and other physical symptoms which then make you feel unwell.

So what can you do to manage these symptoms?

Well the first and most important point to note is that if you notice that you start feeling unsafe in situations that are actually safe, it is because your brain has been rewired to think so (due to your experience of stress or trauma). Your first step is to work on changing how your brain reacts to situations and this comes from changing your thoughts.

Acknowledging you have anxiety is a good starting point, once you have done that, you may want to start writing down your experiences of your anxiety episodes and trying to identify the triggers and where possible avoid them. (E.g. watching news/consuming media can be a trigger, this can be easily avoided). In some cases, it will not be possible to avoid every trigger so you need to retrain your brain to see that the situation is safe by repeating safety mantras for example or reminding yourself of times when the said situation has occurred without any danger. (E.g. fear of driving in a car, remind yourself how often you have done this without any danger or the number of people who do this daily without danger, acknowledging that there are risks but they are minimal and more so, being trapped at home is not a way to live your life and you will find more happiness if you learn to overcome this and other fears is a line of thought that may be useful)

It is very important to remember that, your thoughts affects and creates your emotions and your emotions will determine what sort of behaviour you display. So if you can change the way you think then you can alter your emotions and hence your behaviour.

However, I know this in itself is not easy and can take time to master particularly if you have had anxiety for long periods, so here are some practical tips to help you manage your anxiety

  • Talk to someone. It is so important to speak to someone and express how you are feeling, this can make such a difference. If you don’t have close family or friends, speak to your GP or you can consider contacting any one of the hundreds of charities that support people with this. Alternatively, you may want to speak to a life coach or therapist.
  • Exercise has been shown from many studies to impact anxiety and depression positively, it will make you feel better about yourself and the feel good hormones that are produced when you exercise can negate your negative moods
  • Be careful what you eat and drink. Food is very powerful and what many people fail to realise is that the types of food you eat can harm you or heal you. Limit your intake of sugars, caffeine and alcohol as they can make your symptoms worse. At the other end, a Mediterranean diet which emphasises more healthy fats and comprises a good variety of fruits and vegetables, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, wholegrain and legumes has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety
  • Spend time in nature, go for walks in the park or any green area or natural spaces.
  • Make time to do things that you love. Even if its for 30mins a day, always make time for yourself and choose to spend the time doing something that makes you happy
  • Try mindfulness meditation or yoga. Mindfulness is learning how to live in the moment, focusing on the moment and enjoying each moment as opposed to worrying about the future. Mindfulness practice has been very successful in treating anxiety
  • Try to improve your sleep as poor sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression. The body rests when you are sleeping and if you are not getting enough sleep this can lead to elevated levels of stress.
  • Practice Gratitude. Find things to be grateful for. When we practice gratitude, it can shift our perspective of things and give us a more positive mindset
  • Deep breathing can be important especially when you are feeling stressed, when we are anxious, we tend to have more shallow breaths which means oxygen is not distributed as well to the body and this can result in us feeling like we are out of breath or cannot breathe properly which causes more panic and elevated levels of anxiety. Deep and slow breathing, inhaling for 4 and exhaling for 4 can be helpful. Try to do this for a count of 10 times.
  • Finally, they say laughter is the best medicine. Find something or someone that makes you laugh. I usually turn to a comedy series that is guaranteed to make me laugh that I enjoy such as “friends”. It never fails to cheer me up. Find your own source of laughter.

I hope you find this helpful, feel free to add any tips that you find particularly useful in the comments as it may help someone else.

If you need someone to talk to, I am happy to chat, please contact me by email or direct message.

Tayo xoxo

Don’t let the scales dictate your self worth.

We’ve all been there, at least most of us women have. We get out of bed in a good mood and decide to weigh ourselves, we are hoping for good numbers, essentially lower than the previous day or at the very worst the same as the previous day. Instead the scale dispassionately informs us that we have gained a kilo in 24 hours.

We step off the scales in disgust and now our day is ruined. We wonder if we can spare an extra 30 minutes to add in a run today or maybe we will have to scrap that lunch meeting with friends we had scheduled. In effect, seeing those numbers set us on a rollercoaster of emotions, all negative. Constantly weighing yourself can be harmful if it starts to affect how you feel about yourself. It can lead to self sabotage or quitting from weight loss programs or diets because we feel demotivated and that our efforts have not been rewarded. One of the most overlooked facts is that even up to 8 weeks after starting a diet, the scales may fail to show significant drop in numbers so if you are expecting a massive change from day one or even day 10 of your new weight loss regime you may end up being very disappointed.

I decided to stop weighing myself obsessively a few years ago after I realised how much of a mind f*ck the scales were. This was an inanimate object that caused me so much distress and in the space of a few seconds could obliterate my mood totally. As a fitness trainer at the time, I was doing the exact thing that most of my clients were also doing, allowing the scales to dictate my self worth.

I realised the constant weighing had to stop as I did not want it taking over my life and with this realisation, I also knew I had to help my clients do the same and learn how to put less of a focus on the number on the scales and more focus on how they felt mentally, how their clothes fit, the improvement in their performance in the gym, the way they are now able to make better food choices or food swaps because all of these things were little wins which added together are all a sign of progress instead of just focusing on that one thing, the number on the scales.

So many women (and men) have a terrible relationship with the scales weighing themselves obsessively and letting their self worth and self esteem be tied in to whether they have managed to lose a kg/pound or not. Sadly, many women are bombarded daily with pictures in magazines and in the media of what an ideal body/figure should look like and their perception of what a normal body should be is perhaps skewed to a degree. The truth is that most of the bodies we ogle and admire have perhaps been photoshopped or altered in some way or have had cosmetic surgery. Even if that’s not the case, we have to remember that every single one of us is unique and our bodies don’t have to look the same. Our focus should be on our health and physical and mental wellbeing instead of aspiring to be a certain size.

It is fair to point out that the scales are not really the problem per se, it is how we feel about what we weigh that really causes the problem. Keeping track of your progress during a weight loss journey by checking your weight regularly is a good way of seeing how you are doing and knowing what works and what doesn’t. The problem is when the number on the scale starts to take over your life and affect your day to decisions and moods.

There are so many reasons why stepping on the scale can be harmful to your mental health and hamper your weight loss journey such as;

  • Stepping on the scales is a trigger for most people. I remember the feeling I used to get before I stepped onto the scale. My stomach would have butterflies and I would get really anxious. This is not healthy for anyone and if you are experiencing these sorts of emotions then you need to take some time away from the scales and find other ways of measuring your progress
  • As mentioned above, it may be useful to find other ways to measure your weight loss progress. Monitoring and tracking is an important part of a weight loss journey but it needs to be done in a way that amplifies all the hard work you are putting in not diminishing it. There are times when the scale alone is not a good reflection of all the work you’ve put in and other methods such as how clothes fit you may be more useful
  • If you do want to weigh yourself, only do it once a week. Many women weight themselves daily and sadly this is not useful at all. There are so many reasons day to day why your weight will fluctuate such as retaining water, hormonal issues, stress, lack of sleep and so on, therefore weighing yourself daily is usually quite inaccurate and will usually result in you getting frustrated.
  • Instead of being fixated on a specific number, focus on a range where you will be happy and make that your target. So ideally, I would love to be 65kg but I haven’t even come close to that number in many years. I have found my peace at a range between 68 and 74kg. It means anything within that number is fine and that makes it less stressful for me when I do weigh myself.
  • If getting on the scale is starting to affect your mental health, I would suggest getting rid of your scales completely, At a point in my life, I did not weigh myself for 2 years and guess what? nothing happened, I was totally fine and in fact, I have to say I was much more happier about my weight and the way I looked during this period. If getting rid completely is a big ask, then you could put the scales away and decide not to weigh yourself for a period of time and see how you get on.

If you need help with your weight loss or have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or message me through one of my social media channels

Tayo xoxo

What it really means to “Do what makes you happy”

We have all heard that phrase at one time or the other, “Do what makes you happy” but what does it really mean and is it possible to live purposefully if we always do what makes us happy?

I have always struggled with these words, I am a classic overthinker and instead of just accepting words for what they are, I always tend to over study and overanalyse everything. This has its advantages and has served me well many times and has been useful in helping me grow as an individual. However, sometimes it leads me to decision paralysis as i spend too much time in the thinking zone and not enough in the doing zone.

When it comes to these words though, i am glad that I did spend time analysing and thinking about how this fits in with the notion of being the best version of ourselves. After all, if we always do what makes us happy, we could end up making bad choices or hurting people. E.g. being selfish and ignoring others needs, eating or drinking too much because it feels good at the time, not taking the time to exercise because it’s too hard and we would rather chill out and watch movies instead, having an extramarital affair etc., you get the gist.

The reality is we cannot always do what makes us happy because happiness in itself is a transient and fickle emotion. I have talked about this in many of my blogs and it is also the foundation of my first book “Screaming helps” which focuses on helping us find contentment as opposed to happiness because I see contentment as a more stable emotion.

What we need to understand is that doing what makes you happy so that you can become your better self does not mean being selfish, hurting others or being reckless. It means having the courage to step out and do something different because you would like the experience. It means being authentic and having the courage to be yourself.

It means not being shackled by societal norms to fit specific stereotypes of what is normal or what is expected. If you can safely say, doing what makes you happy will not hurt anyone and will not impact on your own long term happiness or sabotage your efforts at becoming better. So for example, overeating or bingeing might feel good at the point in time when you are doing it but with experience you realise that you usually end up with regret the next day and other negative emotions such as a sense of disappointment in yourself, guilt and perhaps shame. This shows you that even though overeating may have felt good for all of 30 mins when you were doing it, it does not make you happy in the long run. The short term thrill does not outweigh the negative emotions it brings.

So where does this leave you? you learn how to do many things that will enable you to exist in your authentic self such as;

Learning to say no and not feel guilty about it.

Learning to do more of the things that make you happy.

Learning to say no to toxic people, drama and any all round sh*t that doesn’t serve you.

This will bring you total freedom to be yourself and to truly be able to do more of what makes you happy.

Tayo xoxo

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Why does doing less make me tired?

I don’t know about you guys but I am struggling to be motivated. The less I do, the less I want to do. I find myself yawning mid-morning, struggling to sit up and watch a programme on TV to the end and just lacking in energy. Lockdown which initially seemed so cool, i.e. more time to chill and watch Netflix has become a complete drag.

I struggle to exercise and I have had to be especially strict with my routines to ensure that my home workouts don’t grind to a halt. It seems a bit of a mystery that now I am getting so much more rest, I seem more tired and I know I am not alone, many of my family and friends seem to also be struggling with this as are many people on social media. So what is going on?

Why are we more tired from doing less?

Well, the first thing is that with the current going-ons all over the world with the Covid Pandemic, many of us are mentally and emotionally exhausted. Mental and emotional exhaustion can cause us to feel drained and lacking in energy. Our thoughts affect our feelings which in turn affect our actions so if we are thinking about and focusing on all the negativity going on and let’s face it; it is very hard to avoid the negativity, then its not a surprise that our feelings are not going to be very positive which in turn means we feel demotivated, fed up and lethargic.

In addition, the less movement and motion we take, the more tired our bodies actually become. The science behind this is simply to do with blood flow. Our blood cells do the very important job of moving oxygen and other nutrients around all of the cells and tissues in our bodies. The less active we are, the more sluggish our blood circulation will be and inherently, it follows that we will not be getting delivery of oxygen and nutrients as fluidly as when we are more active. This is why when we spend all day sitting on the couch, it seems extremely difficult to get up to do even the smallest task. In addition, many of us are struggling to sleep with all the additional worries about jobs, finances and health and of course, less sleep means more tiredness.

All is not lost though, there are ways of combating this or at least of minimising the effect of the lockdown lethargy. The first and most obvious thing is to move more. Yes, we may not feel like doing it but if we can force ourselves to go for a walk, go outside for some fresh air, do some exercise be it gentle movements, some weight training or yoga then we will definitely feel better and if none of that appeals, put on your favourite song and dance around the room!. I definitely feel much more energised and more motivated once I have completed either my workout or my walk for the day.

To make this easier try to develop some sort of routine for your daily movement. I try to do a workout or a walk each day through the week and take Sunday off as a rest day. Once you’ve committed to a routine, its much easier to just get up and do it. If you can find a workout buddy to help you be more accountable then that will also help you to stay on track.

The final thing is to do some work around your thoughts. if you find yourself feeling tired and lethargic, as well as adding some movement into your day, spend some time analysing your thoughts. If you find you are mainly focusing on negative thoughts then try to change that narrative and remind yourself of things to be thankful for even in these difficult times. Replace what if negatives with what if positives e.g. If you have a thought such as “what if I cannot find another job” then replace it with “what if I find a better job than what I had before ” and try to ground yourself by reminding yourself that you are safe and you are okay currently as you are even if things are hard.

I hope this helps you. Do send me a message and let me know what helps you cope during these difficult times.

Tayo xoxo

Why we need failure tolerance.

Nobody likes to fail. There is some sort of stigma that we attach to failure and even just saying the word can bring some people out in a cold sweat. Failure makes us uncomfortable. Failure hurts.

Many of us have come to despise failure so much that when it does happen to us, it can completely derail us. We can feel shame, disappointed in ourselves, guilt and a lot of embarrassment worrying what people will think of us.

I remember when I had my first experience of failure with a business, I was so sad and ashamed when it failed, I withdrew into myself. I thought people would make fun of me and I would never be able to do anything else. Of course, that was nowhere near true. Yes, some people were not very nice but these people on reflection were not real friends and I did not need them in my life. I found that the people that truly loved me, my family and true friends did not care about the fact that I had failed. I was still the same person as far as they were concerned. Yes, they were sad for me because I was sad about the way things ended but nonetheless they still stuck around and were there for me. More importantly, i learnt a lot about myself and my own tenacity.

There may be situations where our failures causes us to lose friends or family, e.g. in a marriage breakup or a falling out with friends, even then we have to hold on to that fundamental truth that failure is okay and we will survive it. Yes, it is helpful to have support from others but this is not always going to be the case, there will be times when we need to stand strong on our own and be our own cheerleader.

This may also be the case in situations where we may have to go out on a limb by ourselves and the people around us may not be particularly supportive, When we fail in such instances, it can be a lot harder to pick ourselves up especially if we are concerned about what people will say or think. Reminding ourselves that failure is part of everyday life and that everyone fails at one point or another will be immensely helpful.

We all need to remember that failure is an inevitable part of life and I would argue that failure is a necessary experience for us as human beings. Failure is something that happens to everyone at some point. Even the most successful people in the world have failed at some time in their lives. If we are going to try new things and take chances, then it is most likely that some of our attempts at doing something different are not going to work out. That is totally okay and if we cultivate a mindset that accepts that failure is a possibility then it is much easier for us to be courageous in the way we live our lives.

It is understandable that failure has a negative vibe for most of us after all, we have all been conditioned to see success as the ultimate goal. We are constantly bombarded with images and stories of successful people and their lives. Interestingly, we only find out about successful people when they become a success. Social media is also really good at marketing success. No one posts about their failures on social media. All we see are what people have achieved, what they are good at, be it financial or material success.

However, we have to remember that everyone no matter how powerful, rich or successful they may seem, will have faced setbacks and challenges. It is in fact the challenges that help shape our future self more than our successes. Being failure tolerant means that we are able to accept that we will face a certain amount of failure at one time or the other.

I have had many failures in my life, and when I look back at each one, I realise, each of those failures came to teach me something very valuable about life and about myself. I have become emotionally intelligent, more resilient and self assured from each one of these experiences and I would not be the person I am today without all of my failures.

I am not going to pretend that failure does not hurt, it can be painful, humiliating and devastating depending on the level of the failure but it is up to us how much time we spend agonising over the failure. Once we acknowledge our failure, it is useful to take some time to process it and decide what lessons we can learn from it. This also gives us time to grieve any losses that we may have had as a result of the failure.

Once we have done that, we must accept that it is now in the past and we must avoid the temptation to fret or spend too much time worrying about it. If we stay too long in that space of worry and rumination, we will find ourselves trapped in a prison of self doubt and fear. This is a bad place to be as it leads to us procrastinating and unable to take our next steps into a different experience.

It is important to reflect on our failures but it is just as important to have realistic thoughts about a particular failure. We should be willing to take responsibility for our part in the failure and be willing to adapt and change so we are not constantly making the same mistakes over and over again but at the same time we should not let the fear of failure keep us from trying again.

This is the case regardless of what area of our lives we have failed in, be it in our career or business, weight loss goals, relationships or family. Let us learn not to see failure as the be all and end all, instead let us face up to our failures with courage and humility recognising that this is part of life, this is living and this is how we grow.

We cannot sidestep the pain that comes with failure but that is actually part of the process of growing from our failures, Failure makes us so much more resilient and empathetic. It teaches us what does not work and points us in the direction of what might work. Dealing with the pain and allowing that to be, is important but once that is done, you can move on knowing that you are stronger for the experience.

When you fail and you are able to survive the failure, you realise your own strength and that in itself can be so liberating. It reminds you that you can get through difficult things and life will keep moving on regardless. No one really cares about your failures as much as you care about your failure and if you can stop seeing failure as a big deal then you will not be afraid to try again.

No matter what you’ve failed at, be reassured that it happens to everyone and you can get through it. Your failures do not define you and when you do become successful, it will be all the more sweeter because of those failures.

Tayo xoxo

Why is weight loss so hard?

Let’s talk about losing weight and why so many people struggle to lose weight even with the best intentions.

Having worked in fitness for some time and trained many women, I have had the benefit of being part of many weight loss journeys. What I have learnt from those experiences is that there is only one thing that separates those that succeed and those that fail and you will be surprised to hear what that difference is because when I tell people this they usually are genuinely surprised.

What most people expect me to talk about is how much food people consumed, how much money they spent on coaching or how much exercise they did to attain their weight loss goal. However, the measure of success for weight loss, while it can be impacted greatly by those things is not determined by that.

The most important sign of success at a weight loss goal or any other goal for that matter is consistency.

Consistency is the single most important factor that determines whether you will be able to lose weight and also maintain that weight loss over a long period of time and the reason why weight loss is actually more difficult than if feels it should be is because the act of being consistent at anything is not easy.

When we look at weight loss of itself and when I speak to prospective clients, it is clear most people are aware fundamentally of what they need to do, which is to eat less, make better food choices i.e. choose less processed and healthier meals, and move more. However, despite knowing what they should do, most people struggle to do it.

Usually, we will feel that motivation is what we need, We need to be motivated to eat properly, to do more exercise and so on but motivation in itself is a difficult thing to manage and the truth is that motivation is not always going to show up when we require it to.

Let’s say you’ve decided to lose weight, you work with a trainer or a coach who has given you the information you need. You know how much food you should be eating, what type of food, you have an exercise plan and so on. Therefore in theory, you have everything you need to achieve your goal. All you need to do is to want to do it.

For many of us motivation is not something we can demand on order, it isn’t something that can be called upon when we like and a lot of the time, it doesn’t show up when we need it the most. You may be motivated in the beginning to start the weight loss because you want to look good, be a smaller size or look better in clothes or have more confidence and so on and this may spur you on the first week and even the first month or two.

However, there will come a day when you wake up and you do not feel like getting up early to go and exercise or when you feel like eating a Pizza even though you food plan says you are only allowed a salad. You may be out with friends and your willpower slips, you order one drink, then another and before you know it, you’ve drunk your calories for one day in just one sitting. On these sort of days, what happens is that motivation is lacking or absent and this is a reality for everyone, that motivation is not always going to be there every time we need it. There will be days when you are feeling off, or have had a bad day at work, an argument with a friend or have to take work home and you just will not feel up to sticking to your diet or exercise plan.

It is for this reason, that I always advise clients to remember that motivation will not always be there and this is why the act of consistency and having a routine and sticking to it will serve you better in the long run.

Even though I am a fitness addict and I love exercising, there are days I definitely do not feel like it but because I have a routine, I do not allow myself too much time to think about it. I just override the negative voice and I get on with my routine. A routine will serve you well in the long run. Once you have a routine, stick to it like glue. Yes there will be days when this will be harder than normal, but remember that the roadmap of your success is paved by the act of you showing up day after day, week after week, month after month and for life.

In saying this, I want you to accept that some days you will fail at it and won’t do it, there are days when you feel unwell, mentally or physically or when life throws you other problems that take priority over exercise. If that happens, please do not become discouraged or lose heart, just jump back into it when you are ready. Many clients get thrown off when they have had a few bad days of eating and feel like this will totally ruin everything. Remember just as eating a salad for one day will not make you healthy, eating pizza, cake, biscuits etc etc for one day or more will not make you fat. Even if you fall off the wagon for more than one day, never give up, always keep trying, keep showing up.

This is why weight loss must be viewed as a lifestyle change. It is not something you do for a few months then return to your normal habits. If you do that, you are right back where you started very quickly. You have to make the decision that this goal is something you want to achieve not just in the short term but for the long term too. Once you have this mindset, it is easier to overlook any setbacks especially when you know you are in this for the long run.

So if consistency is the key, how can we improve our consistency?

Here are some ideas below but if you need that additional push then a coach or a trainer might be able to give you the extra kick that you need on those days when you do not feel particularly motivated.

If you need some encouragement or just want to chat, feel free to get in touch.

Tayo xoxo

improving consistency:

-What is your motivation? try to identify a great reason for doing this e.g. being healthier, able to play with my kids, run a marathon etc..


Find activities you enjoy to help you get to your weight loss goal quicker

-Find a weight loss buddy, doing it with someone means you have someone in your corner when the going gets tough

Have a routine and stick to it

-Pay for it, we are more likely to show up when we have invested in something

Have small milestones along the way so you can measure how far you’ve come.


-Regularly check your progress and give yourself a pat on the back and a small reward when you hit milestones

Do you need a social media detox?

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on are all social media platforms that have become increasingly popular in recent years. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population is now using some form of social media. We can therefore conclude that social media and all its associated technology is here to stay.

Social media has irrevocably changed the way we communicate, work and socialise especially in the last 10 years and particularly in the last year with the worldwide pandemic forcing most people to work from or spend more time at home meaning we have more time to spend on social media. There are those who would say social media has been a force for good while many others would argue that the challenges and negative issues from the long term use of social media far outweigh any positives.

Like many forms of technology, social media requires us to access it via a device such as a phone, laptop, TV, etc. This means that as more and more people spend time using social media, we are spending far more time on these devices. For a long time, I rallied against the use of social media, I was very careful as to how much time I spent on it and would also warn my kids about the dangers. I could see my children spending less time interacting with me and more time interacting with their phones. This used to drive me mad and like many other households up and down the country, resulted in countless arguments over the use of phones. However, with so much of our world and how it works changing I started to realise that whether I liked it or not, technology was here to stay and it was in my best interest and that of my kids, for me to learn how to use social media but also to understand it. So, I decided that in order to better understand the challenges, I needed to become social media savvy. This has come in useful in the last few years as most of the work I do is now being done online.

The way that our children learn and interact has massively changed and a large part of education is now done via devices and with the aid of technology. Dating and meeting people is now largely done over the internet on a variety of dating sites. The way we shop has also changed with more people choosing to shop online now more than ever. The Covid-19 pandemic brought its own challenges and has probably changed the way people work, shop and communicate for ever. With everyone forced to stay at home, companies who had previously been reluctant to embrace home-working raced to provide employees with the resources and support needed to allow them to continue working from home as this was vital to the continued existence and profitability of their businesses. So in essence, all of the important areas of our lives are now firmly embedded in one way or the other in some form of technology.

So where is the problem? Well, there are many who argue that the reliance on technology and devices have created huge problems in how people relate to each other. With many now spending an increasing amount of time on computers, emails, social media and other forms of technology, not to mention TV, Streaming services and other technology based form of entertainment, it becomes more of a challenge to find time for stillness. Also the reliance on social media and technology for communication has somehow resulted in the deconstruction of the fabric of society and resulted in social fragility and emotional issues. We also have the challenges that with social media and technology, everything is now available at the click of a button. This can lead us to become reliant on instant feedback and may play a part in the high demand for instant gratification that many of us now grapple with.

When we interact on social media, it allows us to say things to people that we wouldn’t dream of saying in real life and there is a lot of nastiness and negativity online. In addition, there are added dangers as people can pretend to be anyone they. Technology has enabled a new generation of fraudsters and dishonest people to operate quite easily by pretending to be someone they are not. In addition, our children are exposed to dangers of meeting and building relationships with people online that may not necessarily have good intentions for them. The observation of other people’s lives on such apps as Instagram and Facebook can leave us feeling envious, drained and angry. Yet, in most cases what we see online rarely ever portrays a true reflection of the person.

When it comes to mental health, social media can be an enormous trigger for anxiety and depression as we can fall prey to the idea that everyone else has a good life based on what we see or we are bombarded with images of perfect looking people, homes, bodies that can leave us feeling short and that we are not enough.

I would argue that the issue is not just about Social media but about the way Social media is used. We have to accept that social media is here for the foreseeable future and that is totally out of our control. What we can do is look at what we can control in terms of our use of it. For those of us who also use technology and rely on social media for our work, it is definitely a two edged sword. I do share content on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter which means i sometimes find myself spending too much time on my devices which sometimes leaves me feeling exhausted and mentally drained. So I do ensure that I now have boundaries in place to ensure that I don’t spend too much time on my device. I have time limits and I avoid checking social media apps first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Withdrawing from social media for some period of time is a good way of reconnecting with oneself and the people around you. I actually love technology and social media but I am keenly aware of its downsides especially when used by children. The potential for bullying and perusing inappropriate or upsetting content is magnified on social media. It can also create a false sense of reality, giving children wrong ideas about body image and appearance which can create issues with self-image and obsessions with one’s body especially with young children who do not yet have a strong sense of self.

A social media detox can be as short or long as we want it to be. The point of the detox is not to do it for the sake of doing it but to enable you to create some distance away from the fakeness and the emotional seesaw of social media. It may even be that instead of a detox, you may look at putting some more safeguards and time limits in place to limit the amount of time you spend on social media as a whole.

As a life coach, I know how important it is to work on improving self-love and self-esteem and this includes limiting activities that may challenge how you feel about yourself. So carefully think about how much time you spend on social media and whether the time could be better used elsewhere. Monitor how much time you spend weekly or monthly and adjust as necessary. Most phones now have an option that allows you to check how much time you spend on the phone and you can also check how much time you spend on individual social media applications as this can help pinpoint become more aware of where you need to make changes.

If someone you follow makes you uncomfortable or leaves you feeling envious, jealous or dissatisfied with your own life, please unfollow them. Remember who you engage with on social media is up to you, you are in control

Social media can be a force for good if it is used properly, follow people who inspire you or who are doing good things in the world.

Uninstall an application if you find yourself unable to stop yourself scrolling, once it is off your phone, it is easier to wean yourself off it.

Have clear boundaries for when you are on the phone and when you switch off.

What you do in the morning can affect the rest of your day, avoid the temptation to scroll first thing in the morning. Even if its just some negative or upsetting news that you catch or a particularly upsetting video or rant, this can upset the balance of your mood at the start of the day which could ultimately affect the rest of your day

Same thing for nighttime, I always remind people that struggle with depression and anxiety in particular, that the images you see and what you hear are particularly important especially if you struggle to sleep. The worst thing you can do is watch something that is scary, violent, upsetting before you go to bed as this can elevate your stress hormones and could leave you awake worrying all night. I used to watch the 10 o’clock news as a habit for many years before I went to bed and soon learnt that this would leave me hyped up or agitated if I heard some particularly negative news and have now stopped doing this. It is also why i muted a lot of the Covid news after a while as the constant drip feeding of negative news can really wreak havoc with your mood.

Finally, remember that ultimately, you have control over how much time you use social media and how you use it. If you start to think it is affecting your mental health and wellbeing then a social media detox may be the best decision you could make. The less time you spend on your phone, the more time you will have to focus on what is actually happening in your life and to enjoy the people around you.

xoxo

Applying grounding techniques for anxiety.

The mind of an anxious person can be very complex. When we begin to experience anxiety about something, it can be very difficult for us to see or hear anything else. We get into our own heads and a loop of “what ifs” which can take us down a path of negative thinking and catastrophising (the act of constantly imagining or expecting the worst case scenario).

With anxiety, the brain becomes used to a negative pattern of thinking and rumination and breaking this habit can be very difficult. When you are anxious or worried, you immediately imagine the worst case scenario and it can be difficult to believe that what you are thinking is not going to become a reality. This unfortunately, can be reinforced when something you dreaded does actually happen. Instead of chalking it down to life, you convince yourself that you were right all along and the world is truly a bad place and worse still you fear the reason this happened to you was because you spent too much time thinking about it and you determine to stop thinking about it but unfortunately for us, the minute we tell our brain not to think about something, the more it holds on to this thought. Rest assured, its not your thoughts that create events, if that was the case, I would long ago have won the lottery!.

However our thoughts have a powerful role to play in how we feel and what we think and ultimately in the way we behave so it is important that we learn a variety of techniques to help us cope with repetitive anxious thoughts.

There are several techniques that you can use for breaking this cycle and the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, which is used by psychotherapists, counsellors and coaches has been found to be particularly useful. There are many different types of grounding techniques and they all work as coping strategies to reconnect you to the present moment and disconnect you from your negative and repetitive thoughts.

When we get stuck into our negative and anxious thinking, we are in effect not living in the moment as we are thinking either about something in the past that is making us afraid and therefore increasing our anxiety or we are worried about something in the future that hasn’t yet happened but in our heads, we are already imagining all the things that can go wrong. Using a grounding technique brings us back to the present time and can disconnect us from the anxious thoughts long enough for us to get out of our own heads and try to change our thoughts.

Before you begin a grounding exercise, think about how you are breathing, Our breath plays such an important part in how we feel. Try to slow down your breathing by taking slow deep breaths. Inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds up to 10 times should help calm you down and then you can start the grounding exercise.

5-4-3-2-1 are the steps you go through in each stage as explained here;

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a picture, toys, curtains , a stain on the wall, anything in your surroundings.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your jewelry, a cushion, or the ground under your feet. 

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This could be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts! Focus on things you can hear outside of your body.

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. If you are at home, you may be able to smell something that was cooked earlier or perhaps the scent of your perfume. If you need to move around to get a smell then do so.

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like— your lunch, the soft drink you had or toothpaste from brushing your teeth?

By the time you have got to 1, you will find that whatever thoughts were making you anxious have been replaced by having to do this exercise.

This is one of many techniques that you can use to defuse anxiety. I also suggest writing things down in a journal especially when you get these anxious thoughts or panic attacks. If you write down things you were previously worried about and whether or not they actually happened, this can remind you that most of what we worry about actually never happens.

Of course, this is not to say sometimes bad things will not happen to you, the reality is that life is not always smooth sailing and there are going to be good days and bad days. However, remembering that most of the negative scenarios in your head actually do not come to pass can give you some measure of comfort.

In addition, it is also useful to combat your negative “what ifs” with positive ones. So, for example, say you are preparing for a job interview and you have anxious thoughts and are having thoughts such as “what if I do badly, what if I mess up, what if I do not get the job” and so on. You can change this narrative to “what if I do really well, what if I do not mess this up, what if I get the job”? The more often you do this, the easier it will becomes to not default to a negative thought pattern. As with all the techniques mentioned here, the more often you do this, the easier it becomes.

If your anxiety is something that you struggle with and it is affecting your quality of life, please speak to someone about it or contact your GP about getting support.

Are you a pleasure junkie?

Since the beginning of time, human beings have been in search for happiness or the closest to happiness that they are able to find. There have been countless studies, loads of research and continuing investigations into what happiness truly is and how we can achieve it. What all of these have so far discovered and are in agreement with is that Happiness is a state of mind. There are many different definitions and descriptions for happiness and perhaps that may be because we sometimes find it hard to put into words what it means to be happy.

In my book “Screaming helps” I describe happiness as an experience of joy and positive well being and of course there are other descriptions. In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

We know that happiness is widely coveted but yet is actually very difficult to achieve and it is even more difficult to pinpoint how to get to a state of happiness. What has become more apparent is that the pursuit of happiness is one that requires some emotional and mental work, we are learning now that to be happy we need to be more mindful of how we think, the things we focus on, the people we are around and the type of experiences we immerse ourselves in.

Happiness we learn is not something that we can buy or achieve by gaining external things such as money, cars, houses, clothes and so on. In fact, what makes happiness so elusive is that to be truly happy we must learn how to be happy even with the simple things and this means cultivating happiness that comes from within. This is a challenge for many who in the belief that happiness can be purchased spend their lives on acquiring. Whether it is the pursuit of sex, drugs, drinks, a high flying career, possessions and so on or risk taking and taking part in daring activities such as sky diving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing etc., humans are constantly looking for happiness but what they end up with when they do all of the above is a short burst of pleasure which fades as quickly as it came.

This can lead us to confuse pleasure and happiness as being one and the same thing, but they are definitely not. Pleasure in and of itself can be a good thing and in fact pleasure in the right form is a beautiful thing. You can get pleasure from the smallest of things, like a cold drink on a hot day, a kiss with a loved one, an unexpected compliment, reading a good book etc. However, pleasure is extremely short lived and by its very nature doesn’t satisfy for long. So what happens with a lot of us is that we replace the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of pleasure. Pleasure gives us a quick hit of joy, we feel good for a short while but it soon dissipates and we find that we need to find more of the same things to get that pleasure or find something new to give us more pleasure.

This is where, if we are not careful we start to chase the quick thrill of pleasure and we can then end up as pleasure junkies. We start to thrive from the thrill we get from a repeated behaviour or activity and when it wears off we need something else to replace it. It is how we get addicted to certain behaviours like buying things we don’t need, overeating, drinking or drugs. We have a bit, it makes us feel good, we have a bit more, it makes us feel better but after a while we will need to take twice as much to feel as good as we did in the beginning. It is this process that kickstarts the vicious process of us a constant need for a pleasure hit which has the danger in some cases of leading to extremely destructive and in some cases life threatening behaviour.

The problem with pleasure is that it can never satisfy us in the long run and all it does is make us more likely to become pain avoiders. We become so desperate to feel good, we will go to any lengths to avoid the lows as that is where the pain is. So we are constantly on the look out for more ways to find pleasure but the catch with pleasure seeking is that the goal post is always moving so we find that we are never happy. Unfortunately, the growth is in the pain and by avoiding this, we avoid becoming a better version of ourselves. The moment you change this narrative and start to look inside of yourself and instead of trying to be happy, learn how to be authentic, how to be mindful and grateful, how to choose good people to surround yourself with, how to be content, how to give to others and learning to love yourself, that is where you start to experience happiness in a different way.

Being a pleasure junkie usually means that you are incapable of committing to any actions that may cause you discomfort. For this reason, most pleasure addicts find it difficult to achieve things like weight loss, exercise or fitness goals, career change goals and even behaviour change. You will find that as a pleasure addict you lack the drive or motivation to make changes to your life even when you realise you are in a situation you don’t want to be in because making that change will usually will be accompanied by some discomfort or pain. Pleasure addicts tend to be less resilient and unemotionally intelligent. This is because they fail to see the connection between their thoughts and their feelings.

Being a pleasure junkie is not all bad news and there is a midway point between a pleasure junkie and a pain avoider that is ideal for most of us to be. Of course, sometimes we may veer more to one side than the other but as with everything else in life this is a continuous process of learning and reflection for us to find out where we meet our true equilibrium. Pleasure junkies are already good at knowing what pleases them, they just need to learn not to overdo it and to keep the pleasure seeking to experiences that are meaningful, mindful and ultimately useful for their long term growth.

Anxiety and the pandemic

Anxiety and worry can be extremely draining and debilitating and the worldwide pandemic hasn’t helped matters. A recent survey by the WHO (World Health Organisation) shows that Covid 19 has severely impacted the demand for mental health services.

If you are feeling anxious then here are 5 tips that may help you.

1. Remember; your thoughts = your feelings = your actions and behaviour. If you feel yourself getting anxious, then try to identify what thoughts you are or were having before you started to get anxious. Capturing those thoughts and stopping them can act as a pause button for your anxiety. If you can stop or change the direction of the thoughts then you can impact the way you are feeling which can then affect how you behave.

2. Once you are aware of your thoughts, remind yourself that your anxiety in and of itself is not useful and will not change the outcome of what you are worrying or anxious about. Anxiety at a particular time about a particular thing is usually quite narrowly focused but if we can try to look at the bigger picture, we’ll see that the eventual outcome of what we are worried about is not going to be changed by our anxiety.

3. Take action – Anxiety can be useful if it prompts us to take action or make a plan where this is possible. Ask yourself is there anything I can do to help this situation? If there is, sit down and write down a plan of what you can do and how you think you can do it. If need be, discuss with friends and family who can support you. However, sometimes, we are anxious about things we cannot control e.g. the pandemic or being in lockdown. In this case, we need to accept that this is outside of our control, our worrying or anxiety will not change anything but just make us feel unwell and instead we can try to change the narrative in our head by identifying a positive or an alternative to worry that may make us feel better. So with lockdown, accepting we are limited in what we can do but we could look at a new hobby, read more, go walking, take up yoga, painting, spend more time with loved ones, learn a new language etc.

4. Journaling can be a powerful tool in helping us to get rid of unwanted emotions. Writing down how we feel and what makes us anxious allows us to express with more clarity how we are feeling. Looking back on past writings can remind you how past anxiety on certain issues did not help which can stop you from ruminating on the same things again. Writing down how you feel can be a way of expressing difficult emotions such as anger and rage without the risk of conflict

5. It’s good to talk. Bottling up your emotions will only make you feel worse. Find someone that you can talk to about how you are feeling. It is normal for us to worry about being vulnerable and telling people how we feel but it is only through being vulnerable and honest that we can truly live an authentic life.

Finally, remember you are more than your anxiety, Anxiety is how you feel not who you are. #MentalWellnessSupport #mentalhealthblogger

What is Resilience?

There is a new buzz word in mental health circles and it is the word “Resilience”. What is it and why do we need it?

Resilience is the ability to adapt to change and adversity, to be able to bounce back from setbacks and to find a way to keep going despite difficulties that we come across in life.

Having resilience has become something that most mental health advocates now realise is a crucial tool for dealing with life’s knockbacks. Psychologists believe that resilient people are able to cope better with adversity and to rebuild their lives after a setback.

We all come to realise at some point that life is not easy and even the best laid plans can go awry. In addition, change and adversity can strike in the blink of an eye changing one’s course forever. It is now well recognised that if we do not have the ability to deal with challenges then this can seriously affect our long term mental health and our ability to get through life. Essentially, we need to find a way to look positively at setbacks so that they do not cripple us and stop us from moving forward.

What would be the best way to do this though? if we accept that resilience is born from experiencing setbacks then we realise that becoming resilient is not going to come without some pain. This is because the ability to face hardship comes from knowing that you can and you will recover and the only way you can know this for sure is when you have actually been through a period of hardship and have been able to come through it.

There are some key features of a resilient person that are worth thinking about. Resilient people are firm believers that life is worth living, that may be for themselves or for others such as spouses or children but they have an innate desire to survive. When a resilient person is given lemons, they make lemonade. Resilient individuals tend to find a way around things, knowing that one way or another, they can make it. Resilient individuals accept reality and life for what it is. They do not live in a world of dreams or fairy tales, they know that life can be tough and they accept that and perhaps, this is one of the key facts about resilience; it is having the understanding that life is not always going to be kind to you, that things don’t always work out, that bad things happen to good people and so on and being okay with that. When you accept these as facts, it makes it easier to face and deal with a challenge when it does arise.

A lack of resilience can have far reaching consequences on an individual hence the recognition of its importance and why it is needed. People who lack resilience are unable to cope when stressful situations happens, they essentially fall apart, they can become overwhelmed to the extent that they are unable to make any decisions. When faced with stress or a real challenge, they may find themselves resorting to unhealthy habits such as food, alcohol or drugs as a way of coping. In addition, a person without resilience is more likely to end up with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression and inherently, it will take them longer to recover from a setback than someone who has some resilience.

A big misconception people have about resilient people is that they are cold, or they are not emotional so they do not experience pain, grief or disappointment as much as others. This is totally untrue. Resilient people do feel pain and all the other emotions that come after a setback, the only difference is that they respond to it in a different way.

So how can we develop resilience or the skills to build resilience without experiencing setbacks? This is difficult but not impossible and I would say in my opinion to be truly resilient, you would need to have dealt with and been through some challenges however, you can also work on developing some skills that can help you build resilience such as;

  • To be resilient you need to harness the skill of looking at negative situations in a positive way or in other words trying to find the good in a bad situation.
  • Resilience demands the need for change and for change to happen you need to be open or at least flexible enough to accept that you may need to make a change
  • In order to be resilient, you need to learn how to focus on the things you can control. The desire to overthink problems and manage everything will usually cause you to become even more confused, flustered and unable to make decisions
  • It is helpful to have a good network of family and friends who genuinely care about you and want the best for you and who you can talk to when things get too much
  • Resilient people are generally emotionally aware and emotionally intelligent, you need this so that you can be aware of your emotions and understand realistically how you may need to deal with things
  • Resilient people are able to look at things in the long term, they don’t focus on short term goals and are able to commit to the long game.

If this blog raises any questions or concerns, do feel free to email me. xoxo

Knowing when to move on

This quote by the amazing Nina Simone is one of my favourite quotes ever and it has been even more relevant in my life in recent times. I first heard this quote many years ago and at the time would usually only apply it to relationship issues. However, as time has gone on, I realised I can apply this to many other areas in my life and it has become one of my grounding principles and one that I apply when considering a vast number of problems.

The quote is from the song “You’ve got to learn” by Nina Simone who was an American singer, songwriter who sang a mixture of jazz, blues and folk music in the 60’s. She was a staunch civil rights activist and also known as a highly regarded voice for black women in that era. The quote “You’ve got to know when to leave the table when love is no longer being served” is about moving on. Its about closing the door on situations or people that no longer serve you. It is about recognising that a particular behaviour or practice is not helping you and may even be holding you back.

The reason i believe this quote has become such an important mantra for how I live my life is because I have been able to apply it to most areas of my life quite easily. I have had challenges like everyone else in life and one of the most difficult things I have had to learn is that I have sometimes held on to situations or things even when they no longer served me because I was afraid of change and what that would mean. Walking away or giving up on something can be so hard and sometimes feels like you will never recover or you are actually self-sabotaging but the reality is every good thing that has happened to me has come from change whether it has been welcome or not, I now accept that without change there can be no progress.

It leads us to wonder why it can be so difficult to leave a situation that is no longer serving us.

There are a number of possible reasons; fear of change or the unknown, fear of what could happen if we do (in abusive relationships, this is one of the main reasons people don’t leave an abusive partner), at other times, we are slow to realise that love is no longer being served so we continue with the hope that whatever is not going well, will improve. In other words, we bury our heads in the sand. These are just a few examples, I am sure you can add a few more of your own.

I actually believe that we can apply the same logic to a lot of life situations. We can apply this to friendships that have become toxic, activities that we no longer love which now cause us stress instead of pleasure, places or things we possess that don’t bring us joy and yes we can definitely apply this also to a relationship where the other person is clearly no longer giving us love.

I think it is important to make a distinction between a toxic relationship where it is clear the other person does not love you and may actually be damaging your mental or physical health AND a situation where a relationship is going through a bad spell. Marriages and relationships go through phases and sometimes we can get stuck in a phase where we feel disconnected from the other person, in this situation it is more advisable to communicate and seek to see where the relationship has gone off rail and try to do some work on it.

However, where you have a situation where your partner shows you by their behaviour that they do not have love for you but instead they treat you with contempt, indifference or derision. They may put you down regularly, may be verbally, emotionally or physically abusive and any other behaviours which significantly affects your mental wellness and may even put you in harm’s way then this is where you need to realise that love is no longer being served.

I am always on the side of trying to save a marriage but this is something that the two people in the relationship should be working on TOGETHER. If you find you are doing all the work and your partner does not commit to working on the relationship and their behaviour doesn’t change then you may need to reevaluate the situation. Also staying and working on a marriage is fine provided, you and any children you may have are not in any danger or your mental wellness is not at stake.

When we do identify the need to move on, what does that look and feel like?. I guess one thing I have learnt is that moving on may not always feel good at the time you do it. It is difficult to walk away from something familiar that you’ve grown used to however it is useful to look at it as the beginning of a new adventure, instead of focusing on what you are losing, think about what you may gain. Leaving the old behind and looking forward to the new means a world of possibilities that you may not even be able to imagine. It may also be helpful to remember that holding on to something that is no longer serving you may actually be very limiting and may stop you from becoming the best version of yourself. I experienced this personally when I gave up people and friendships, even family members that I have finally come to realise do not have my best interest at heart.

One thing that is important about leaving the table and moving on is that when you really understand what this means and when you really are able to evaluate and identify areas where you need to move on, you do it with dignity and with clarity. You do not need to give reasons or excuses and you certainly don’t need a grand gesture or to declare for all to see that you are moving on, you just get up, get out and close the door, gently even.

As a life coach, this is the main focus of how I help clients, by helping them to recognise behaviours and practices that do not serve them and working in unison with them to find a strategy for change so that they can live a more productive life.

So, as Nina Simone says “You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served, To show everybody that you’re able, to leave without a word”. I hope that whatever you feel is no longer serving you and in particular any area in your life where love is no longer being served, that you find the courage to get up, leave the table and move on. xoxo

****If any of the issues mentioned here are a trigger or if you or someone you know needs support with a difficult relationship or domestic abuse, please contact one of these organisations mentioned below.

How do I lose menopausal belly fat?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a fitness and wellness coach is “How do I get rid of my belly fat”?

This is not just something that happens to menopausal women, it happens to a lot of men and women especially in middle age but as we know, menopause in particular makes women more prone to belly fat. So what can we do to tackle this?

  • The first step is acknowledging there is an issue and that you are ready and willing to do something about it. Once you have done that, you then need to start defining how you are going to go about it.
  • It is important to identify why this is important to you and why it matters so much. Identify your “why” and make sure it really resonates with you. Just wanting to lose your flab is not enough, you must be ready to put in the work and consistency required. This is why having a strong “Why” is important as this is what keeps you going when motivation is low.
  • Exercise is important but surprisingly it is not the most important thing, your diet and nutrition is equally, if not more important. Watch what you eat, Reduce processed foods that are high in sugar and bad fats and also your general food intake should match your body’s needs. Include healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates.
  • Exercise plays an important role but the type of exercise is also important. You need a balance of HIIT, cardio and core, with some resistance training. Perhaps that sounds like a lot but there are many ways to create an exercise regime that includes a bit of everything you need. For e.g. you could make up a crude HIIT workout that encompasses cardio and resistance training e.g. running on the spot and squats. HIIT workouts can also seem challenging but again it is quite easy to devise a basic HIIT session e.g. doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, 30 second rest, 30 seconds of squats is a basic example. You can repeat this several times for maximum effect and you could also add in some other exercises. The main aim with HIIT is to combine high intensity with low intensity so bear this in mind when creating your workouts.
  • Lifestyle changes are also quite important and there are a number of adjustments that can greatly influence how quickly you see results. E.g. Getting good quality sleep is very important, drinking at least 1 litre of water daily, ideally 2litres and aiming to reduce stress. These elements all affect your hormonal balance, this is of more importance with perimenopausal/menopausal women as our hormones are all over the place, so we must do all we can to keep them in check.

So let’s look at the above points in more detail. What does it mean to identify your “Why”? Knowing why you want to do something and having a strong and convincing reason in your mind is going to be important when the going gets hard. Losing any type of weight takes determination, persistence and patience. If your why is not strong enough you will give up quite easily. A good example of a “why” is to ensure that you do not put yourself at risk for more serious illnesses such as diabetes. This is one example, yours can be anything as long as it is convincing enough to keep you on track

Nutrition is key. Without good nutrition, losing belly fat naturally is impossible. You cannot out train a bad diet is a very popular saying and it is absolutely right. Even if you do everything else right, a bad diet will curtail your attempts and definitely slow you down. You should avoid sugar, fatty and processed foods. Remember there are good fats and bad fats so good fats such as nuts and avocado are good. Avoid fizzy and sugary drinks, pies, cakes and pastries especially if they are not home made. Include more vegetables, fruits and healthy sources of proteins and carbohydrates. I will be covering nutrition in more detail in a separate post so stay tuned!!!!

A good mix of exercise styles as mentioned above is very important to kick start our metabolism which has generally slowed down and to help shift stubborn fat. In particular, HIIT (high interval intensity training) has been shown to burn more calories in a shorter time and even after you stop exercising, you continue burning calories for a short while after. HIIT basically means an intense burst of exercise followed by a short rest and repeated several times. These could be a mix of resistance training and cardiovascular for maximum results e.g run for 1 min rest for 30 seconds then run for 1 min, and repeat several times. This will get your heartrate up and get your body moving. Please remember as with all new exercise regimes to consult your doctor before taking up any form of exercise.

Sleep, good quality sleep is vital. When we sleep, our body rests, repairs and regenerates itself. It is more important to get good quality of sleep even if its not for a long time than to be in bed for a longer length of time with broken sleep. So, 5 hours of deep sleep is better than 8 hours of broken and restless sleep. Water as mentioned is also vital as it helps to regulate and balance your hormones and it improves your circulation, finally avoiding stress is important if we want to keep our hormones level. Stressful situations can cause our bodies to produce a hormone called cortisol which when it is produced at the right time and in the right quantities is actually a very useful and important hormone. However, if we are constantly stressed, our bodies may over produce this hormone and when it is produced excessively and not actually for the right reasons it can actually cause damage to the way our body functions. Cortisol can increase glucose (sugar) in the blood and this can actually cause you to store more fat around the belly area. In addition, it does have a lot of other negative effects on the body when produced in excess.

Finally, there is a common misconception that you can just have exercises that specifically target the stomach such as crunches and this will get rid of belly fat. This is totally untrue. While we do have exercises that are designed to work on the stomach and strengthen the core, these on their own will not get rid of belly fat. Remember belly fat, like any other fat is excess fat which needs to be burned off. You cant tell your body where to burn its fat from so what you essentially have to do is work on generally fat loss and add in the core and stomach exercises and as the fat starts to be burnt off through all your efforts, excess fat from your tummy will be included in that. I hope that makes sense but if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.

Listen more, talk less!

If you want to have meaningful relationships and valuable friendships, you need to develop great listening skills. We all like to be heard but find it harder to listen. The best communicators are those who understand the value of active listening.

Listening to understand, engaging with the person talking, making eye contact, being focused on what they are saying, not interrupting someone while they are speaking, all of these are really important and sometimes quite difficult to do. It is common that during a conversation, we are already making assumptions about the person or what they are saying or we are eager to interject and tell them our own story as relates to what they are saying.

Most of us confuse listening with hearing. Hearing is not the same thing as listening, we can hear the sounds someone is making and even the words but we may not be processing the information. Our minds can easily wander and we may get distracted by noise or something else. If we really want to connect with someone, we need to show them that we are interested in what they have to say and we need to get to know them properly as well. We can do this by cultivating the art of active listening and empathy.

Remember your ears will never get you in trouble but your mouth might, so listen more and talk less.

Embrace the ordinary!

Have you ever asked yourself or someone else that well-known but dreaded question? “Why am I here?”. Here of course, being planet earth that we all reside on. It is a question I have asked myself more often as I get older. What is my purpose in life? Why am I not doing more with my life? What should I have done that I haven’t done? and so on. Of course, these are not easy questions to answer, that is, if there is even an appropriate answer for such questions. Surely, the answer to these questions will differ from one person to another.

Life can sometimes seem so humdrum and mundane that we question what we are doing wrong. We wonder why our life is not more exciting and full of adventure. For the majority of us, we wake up most mornings and go through the same lame stuff we did the day before and the day before that. Most of the time, we plod on without really questioning things but once in a while we start to wonder what happened to all of those amazing plans we had of what our life would look like.

The thing is we all start with an expectation of what we expect our lives to be and for virtually everyone, we want our lives to be amazing, exciting, full of adventure and promise. I am yet to meet someone whose plan was for their life to be one long slog of responsibilities and paying bills. This makes it obvious that even before we started we had already built in expectations that were perhaps a little bit lofty, perhaps overly optimistic and of course when our expectations are unrealistic then inevitably, disappointment is not far off.

If we expected that our life would be built up of major achievements that are noteworthy and impressive and that doesn’t happen we start to question what went wrong. We look around at others, and measure ourselves against them and of course we will probably have reason to feel somehow that we have failed somehow especially if the people with whom we compare ourselves seem to have done better than us in some way.

Why do we forget that not everyone can be a high flier, high achiever or even in the simplest forms, not everyone will get married, have children, buy “that” house or fly first class!. For most of us life is going to be pretty ordinary, no guts, no glory. Just getting through the regular everyday stuff and trying our best to do that as best as we can. We have to accept that ordinary is okay and actually it can be better than okay and does not mean your life cannot be full and happy. Instead we can start to think more about the ordinary or not so ordinary things that we would want to achieve in life and perhaps set small achievable goals for ourselves so that once in a while we punctuate the mundane with a bit of excitement. The funny thing about this is that when we are able to do that, we are so much more appreciative of what we have and feel even more grateful to be able to have the extra.

So perhaps we will never write that book we that dreamed about writing or maybe we will and maybe we will never visit Rome or maybe we will, we may never go trekking in India, then again we just might. whatever the case, let us learn how to be happy even in the small things, let us find a way to be grateful that we are even alive and able to dream and plan how we can do something different in our lives. Let us be grateful for the opportunities that we have had that others never got. Let us also be happy for those who do those extraordinary things we may dream of, they make it clear that our dreams are possible.

Also don’t forget that most of the things people reckon will make them happy really doesn’t and sometimes the happiest moments will come from the very normal stuff that we experience in our everyday lives. So, embrace the ordinariness of your life and make it work for you. Remember you don’t have to fit anybody’s idea of great to be happy. Find what makes you happy and stick with that.

Christmas blues.

Christmas season is finally upon us, decorations are going up, Christmas music is on the radio and in the shops. TV and social media is full of pictures of gifts, food, decorations and so on and we continuously see images and adverts of families gathering together to celebrate together with plenty of food and presents. Unfortunately, Christmas is not a season of happiness and good will for all men and women. For many people, Christmas is a scary, lonely and painful time of the year that many look upon with dread. This time of the year exposes people that are on their own, poor or are just down and out on thier luck. It is more obvious at this time of the year to them and perhaps, others that they are not surrounded by family or friends, or cannot afford expensive or any any presents or do not have a place or anyone to spend this time of the year with. 

The over-commercialisation of Christmas has worsened year upon year and shows no signs of slowing down. Every year, the bid for our money starts earlier and earlier, I started seeing Christmas goods in the shops as early as September!. We patiently wait for Ads from all the big retailers showing us their version of the Christmas message they want to sell to us, all in a bid to make us spend our hard-earned cash in their stores. What many of us don’t realise is how easily we get drawn into this. Even if we don’t normally celebrate Christmas or are not Christians, we still go along with it. Many people spend ridiculous amounts of money buying gifts and end up in debt after its all over. It is also a shame that companies seem to exploit this by trying to compete with each other by snagging the best celebrities to star in their Christmas ads. Walkers reportedly paid Mariah Carey, one of the worlds famous and richest female singers, £9million pounds to star in their Christmas ad. Yet at the same time, we are bombarded with emails and letters from charities reminding us of how vulnerable people are at this time of the year and seeking donations to help shelter and feed people at this time of the year.

I for one am slightly miffed at the way Christmas, a Christian holiday has been hijacked by so many non-believers. I don’t think there is any other religious holiday that has been so shamelessly taken over like Christmas has. As a Christian I feel very protective of Christmas having a reason and not a reason that has anything to do with buying of more stuff we don’t need. However, that is something probably worthy of another separate blog.

Coming back to sensitives around this season, we need to spare a thought for the people who struggle with this season and be more considerate and aware of those around us. There are people for whom this time of year may brings back terrible memories. Perhaps they lost a loved one or a marriage broke up around this time of the year, or for some people, this time of the year just highlights how alone they are and for those people they may dread the loneliness and isolation. With so many days off work, school and normal routines, people that are on their own can be literally trapped at home with nothing to do and no one to spend time with. It doesnt help that all around are images of families getting together, sharing a meal and presents and this therefore puts more pressure on those not doing these things, it may leave them feeling that they are the only ones without families or friend to share time with at Christmas.

There are people who are struggling to make ends meet and are worrying about how they will be able to buy presents for their children, for them, this period becomes a time of stress and worry.  Family feuds and arguments abound at this time of the year, people you don’t see regularly and perhaps do not get along with are suddenly thrust upon you for a long period of time and  it can become too much for even the most patient of people, in addition arguments over money and how to spend it and the unreasonably high expectation that people have for a perfect Christmas puts even more strain on the gentlest of people. Relationships can become hugely strained and a lot of marriages and relationships can crumble around this time of the year too. This is also the reason January is one of the most likely months for divorce and separation. If you are already struggling in your relationship with your partner, being stuck with them for a long period of time  and trying to pretend to be happy can put intolerable pressure on an already fragile relationship.

So, what can we do to make a difference? Well, you can try to be a bit more generous and thoughtful at this time of the year. I am amazed and how unkind and bad-tempered people get in the shops and supermarkets at this time of the year. The stresses of trying to create a perfect Christmas is a challenging one even with the best will in the world. Perhaps we can shift our focus just a slight bit outward and think of those who have less than we do?

You can invite a lonely person or someone you know doesn’t have family around to share Christmas lunch with you, you could volunteer at a shelter, support homeless charities who do so much more at this time like Shelter and Crisis.

At the end of the day, it is just about being a bit more thoughtful and sharing more kindness and if we can’t do that at this time of the year, supposedly the season of goodwill then when can we do it?

Tayo Kuti is a writer, blogger, content creator and social media executive. You can get in touch with her at tayokutiwrites@gmail.com�I�p���

My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Hi everyone and anyone and welcome to my blogpage!

A long held dream of mine to start writing culminated in my publishing my first book in September 2019 called “Screaming Helps”. In addition to this, I have always wanted to write a self-help blog. So here I am, This is my own space where I share anecdotal messages and thoughts about how to find contentment, be happy and be yourself. Stay tuned for my very first “proper” blog coming very soon. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.