Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Looking forward to looking back – Acknowledging a good year

When we are little we are encouraged to write a letter to Father Christmas explaining the reasons we ‘deserve’ presents; if we are lucky this may have encouraged us to reflect on what we have achieved in the previous twelve months that made us ‘good’.  We may continue this when we write notes in our Christmas cards telling friends our news. Looking back at the end of the year seems natural to us.
When we acknowledge our achievements we relive the good stuff and our brains reward us further with releasing the feel good hormones that were activated at the time of the original event. It can also be useful to note what felt good last year so that we can have more of it next year. Goal setting in January can be more fun when it is focused on positive aspects rather than denying ourselves and giving things up!
So take a little bit of me time this week to think about all the good things you did this past year; those successes that you feel good about. The little daily triumphs in life that help uplift us. The big actions that lead us to new ways of being.  It may work for you to just close your eyes and let the memories come or perhaps your Facebook page is the diary of your good stuff, I find that instagram is a collection of all my happy moments,and working out how to use instagram is on my achievement list this year, along with hashtags,daily tweeting and feeling good about writing a blog! When you have spent time thinking and feeling your victories it’s helpful to find a way to make them tangible. Writing, drawing, creating in some way a tribute to yourself, your personal ‘wow, look at what I have accomplished …… I am amazing’ (and if it makes you feel better write it to Father Christmas!)
Of course there will be sadness for many of us about losses and disappointments from the past year but we can still acknowledge how we responded to those events. It doesn't detract from the importance someone meant to us or the significance sorrow; if we are able to take pride in having been aware of our pain but are still able to smile when the sun comes up we are displaying healthy self-awareness. When we have survived a year of turmoil we should appreciate our own resilience with extra gratitude.
It maybe that you want to look at making a gratitude map when you have finished basking in your achievements for the year, or plotting your positivity path through 2015. Whatever cements all the ‘good stuff’ you have created, the ways you have flourished and the well-being you have promoted in your own life and others.
I like to take a big sheet of paper and let the words flow then add colour and doodles and patterns. This is for no one’s eyes but mine so I don’t need to worry about making sense or spelling correctly. This year I shall take a photo and make it my January screen saver; a reminder of what a fantastic 2015 I made for myself.

And don’t forget when you have basked in your own clever goodness to give yourself a big vote of thanks......it wouldn't hurt to face yourself in the mirror, smile and say out loud "well done, you made it, you are truly fabulous!" 

Monday, 14 December 2015

10 Gifts I’d like to give you this Christmas

1. A Self- Acceptance Stick – You are absolutely OK; and when you’re not OK then that’s fine too….. Every day you are doing your best and no one can ask for more than that. A handy alternative to a magic mirror.

2. Compassion Confetti – gather up big handfuls and chuck it about when love is in short supply; love for yourself as well as others.

Tip - applying hairspray before application helps it stick.

3. A Kindness Candle – lasts for hours, fragrance wafts far and wide, long lasting and self- fulfilling.

4. Positivity Pastilles – suck whenever doubts cloud your appetite. Can be administered freely without any side effects.

5. A Bottle of Meaningfulness – especially useful on dark January mornings when purpose may be in short supply.

6. Flourishing Essence – dab on pulse points to release flow. Also activates serotonin and with continued use can reset endorphin supplies.

7. Relationship Sprinkles – powerful and instantly transformative. Sheds light on misunderstanding and fosters empathy.

8. Achievement Medals – big and small accomplishments need to be recognised; try standing tall and shouting ‘YES’ when pinning a rosette to your lapel which will proclaim your greatness to all and sundry.

9. Endless Engagement – often an after effect of 5; but can be used as a stand-alone product in conjunction with a sense of purpose.

10. A Roll of Renewable Gratitude – the thank you tape that keeps on giving……

With lots of love 

Rebecca  @10toshine

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Five Days of Five Minute Mindfulness.

Mindfulness can seem complicated but it is simply paying attention. In the build up to Christmas we can become extra stressed  and taking the time to increase awareness of the wonders of the world around us is a great way to maintain a calm approach to the festivities. As with any new healthy habit  it's a good idea to start with small steps and build up as you become more confident. Above all mindfulness should be practised without stress or judgement, an attitude of lets see and compassion for yourself is helpful.There is no right or wrong. A little everyday is a good way to begin.

DAY 1 – Stop and listen. Spend just a few minutes and focus your mind on sounds. What can you hear? Close sounds near to you? The rustle of someone in the next seat? Far away distant sounds?  A radio in the neighbour’s kitchen?  Your own body sounds? Can you hear your own breathing? Try focus on each level of sound in turn; can you shut out all but your own internal noises? Can you tune your hearing out really far; stretch it, find tiny sounds just registering from far away. Play with what you can hear. It’s easier if you close your eyes and turn down other activity whilst you concentrate on one specific sense. And that’s it…..that’s mindfulness.

DAY 2 – Take a break. Sit down somewhere calm and quiet with your favourite hot drink, tea, coffee, milk, whatever makes you feel soothed and relaxed. Look closely at the cup, the shape, the colour, the spaces around the cup shape. Watch the liquid in the cup; perhaps you can notice a tiny movement across the surface. Take in with your eyes everything you notice about this drink in this cup at this moment. Pick the cup up and feel its weight in your hands. Notice how the warmth from the drink changes the temperature of your own skin, you may even be able to sense the warmth as it travels up from your fingers through to the palm of your hand and spreads out as it extends further up your forearms. Pick the cup up higher so you can smell the contents, take a big deep breathe in and feel the smell of warm comfort as it floats into your mind. Finally take a sip, notice the sensation of the cup against your lip, the feeling as the drink touches your teeth then your tongue until it changes the way your whole mouth feels. Savour the taste; does the first sip taste different when it hits various parts of your mouth? Can you feel the hot liquid travelling down as you finally swallow it? That’s mindfulness in the moment.

DAY 3 – Bodily Awareness. Find somewhere very comfortable to lie or sit. Close your eyes. Focus on the feeling of your feet where they touch another surface; is it hard? Rough? Soft? What about the pressure? How about any socks or shoes as they touch the skin on your feet? How does that feel? Travelling up from your legs take notice of each body part in turn; really focus on one bit at a time. Be aware of the physical sensations of clothing as it makes contact with your skin and how each body part experiences touching the surface it is resting on. When you have experienced your body as separate parts take time to pull out from the sense of individual limbs and feel your whole body operating as one unit.  This is mindfulness and can be very refreshing!

DAY 4 – In the now. The main ingredient in the mindful recipe is the present moment. When you consciously stop and focus on one sensation, one option from all the possible things you could be sensing, your mind has no choice but to be fully present in the now. We all have a tendency to add judgements to what we are thinking, mindfulness offers the chance to take a break from that habitual way of thinking and just be. When you are going about your life today take some time to focus on one thing at a time. If you are talking to someone try not to look around or wander what you are going to do next, give the dialogue your full and undivided attention. If you are doing the washing up really be aware of the way it feels to do so. Just taking a few minutes at a time to be fully present with whatever it is you are engaged in doing and do so without attaching meaning to it. Accept whatever comes up in such moments with an open mind. Being mindful encourages freedom to explore our habits
DAY 5 –360° Sensory Space. Find a place today that is completely new to you. It may involve a bit of forward planning but it needs to be a space you have never experienced before. Perhaps a street you have never walked down, a gallery you have never visited, a tree you have never stopped at and pondered. It doesn't need to be anywhere grand or complicated but it does need to be new to you. In this novel space I want you to practice using all your senses to trace your sensory surroundings. Just one minute per sense to discover how this place looks, smells, sounds, tastes (if appropriate), and feels to your touch. Really absorb all the perceptions that you experience in a brief five minutes. Open up all your senses to the world around you in this fleeting moment. Take in all the abundance of sensations. Then just continue to be very quiet and turn your attention inside. Turn off the external stimulus and observe how you feel. Allow it to be whatever it is. (This can be quite a powerful experience so just accept however you feel and approach it with a sense of what if?) Give yourself some time to re-locate in the space before moving on. This is the five point sense meditation and a great way to ground yourself whenever you need some mindful space. It can be done anywhere, any time, but it’s a good idea to practice it for the first time in new surroundings so as not to be influenced by previous experience. 

Just five minutes of daily mindfulness can benefit so many areas of our life; we can restore a healthy friendly relationship to ourselves, reconnect with our internal positive resources, and release abundant creativity. Mindfulness is the true path to the heart; of being the most authentic version of you in the present moment. And there is a unique freedom in being just that.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

24 ways to Create Christmas Happiness

With a month to go until Christmas I've been thinking about ways to be even happier this holiday season. I love Christmas. But I know a fair few people who get very stressed about the whole thing. Applying the same ideas of mindfulness, kindfulness and thankfulness to the pre-Christmas rush will help to cultivate calm well-being and ensure a stress free time everyone to enjoy.

Happy Christmas thoughts in no particular order:

1. Happy thoughts bring happy things – why waste thoughts, time, and energy on worrying about whether something may not be perfect.

2. Care and share – relationships are what it is all about.

3. Look for the best in everyone – we all have good in our hearts.

4. Make magic moments – it’s up to each and everyone of us to create the world we want to live in.

5. Be your own person – your unique so be as different, as individual, as YOU as you can be.

6. Love – always, in as many ways as you can. ( see 17)

7. Simply be happy – don’t make things unnecessarily complicated. A sunny day is a reason to celebrate.

8. Appreciate the good stuff – notice , become aware of the world around you; it’s all pretty amazing

9. Kindness is free – a simple gesture of friendship, an offer to help, a nod and a wave; there is no cost to consideration. ( see 17)

10. Look around with wonder – really take the time to look at the everyday things that you may have seen a hundred times but not necessarily have savoured before.

11. Shine your own light – be the best you possible and don’t hide your talents.

12. Trust your heart – we all know what is good for us, our body gives us signals all the time. Our heart will always tell us if we are on the right path.

13. Smile – it realises fizzy hormones that make the world light up. (see 17)

14. Sprinkle everyday with silliness – sometimes we need to go back to the lightness of being a child and add a bit of sparkle.

15. Believe In wonderful – it exists for us all.

16. Joy full – start every day with the thought that you will fill it with all the things that make life good; the people that you love, the sights that give you pleasure, the tastes that make you come alive, the sounds that inspire you to sing out with joy.

17. Give (unconditional love) – give a smile, a hug, a kind word, a seat on the tube, a hand with the shopping. Give lots of love, sprinkle your whole day with it, just because you can and have so much to give.

18. Plant happy seeds – some seeds take longer to germinate than others, be patient they will flower when the time is right.

19. Laugh – get those endorphins flowing. (see 14 which should get the laughter going if it needs reigniting)

20. Choose to be happy – it’s your choice how you perceive things. You can choose to look for happiness, to see the good in life, to find HAPPY in all kinds of places.

21. Kiss – not just for lovers but for friends, children, pets, blow a kiss to the postman… kiss to let them know you care.

22. Hug – See 21

23. Gratitude opens doors – when we show our appreciation, when we are brimming with thankfulness the world responds with kindness

24. Thank you – so easy to say, so special to show, so lovely to receive.

As a reminder to keep positive why not download a 10toSHINE colour-your-own calendar with 24 ways to Create Christmas Happiness
Sheet two - words

I’m a big fan of mindful colouring in, so if the idea of the holiday season is already making you tense get out your pencil case, print off the 2 A4 sheets and absorb yourself in a bit of playful relaxation.

Step 1: Colour the top sheet, the one with the numbers.

Step 2: Carefully cut around the heavy marked lines that make the windows. Only three sides per window, not the dotted line.

Step 3: On the second sheet apply glue to the areas around the boxes.

Step 4: place top sheet on to sheet two and smooth down so firmly glued together.

Each day as you open a window you will find a positive prompt to guide your day. I'm going to colour-in my ‘affirmations’ as they appear each day, just to reinforce them a little more, but there are no rules so do as you wish.

And of course you could get even more creative:

You could print off the sheets, cut out the sayings and the numbers then stick them to card back to back, to create a 24 pack of handy happiness hints.

Or make them into tags and tie them to a happiness branch for a blossoming of positive inspiration.

Or make two sets and turn them into a game of happy snap.

Play. Have fun. Share with friends. Get out the glitter…… that’s what Christmas should be about.

I’d love to know your suggestions and to see the myriad of ways you have chosen to Create Christmas Happiness. Please share them with me.

Thank you R x

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Make Yourself Happy

When I was very little I loved 
colouring books.But I didn't love rules; I have at least one clear memory of being told my 'creative' technique wasn't 'right'. One infant teacher held my picture up to the whole class as an example of 'wrong' coloured sky (I had made it pink).But this didn't stop me.I drew things my own way and created my world with all the colours I wanted.
I understood at five years old that a new packet of felt tips and a blank sheet provided all  I needed to be happy,so I totally get why adult colouring is so popular. 

This is why you should give it a go:

  1. it's a calming and soothing - we all know mindfulness works, colouring-in creates that feeling without having to try.
  2. You can purchase felt tips and a pencil case! 
  3. There are no rules; no one will tell you the sky isn't pink !
  4. When we access our creativity it produces changes in our brain that makes our thinking clearer and we become more productive.
  5. If we combine colouring with affirmations we are using the relaxed focus to seed the ideas in our minds.
  6. We can do it when other people are watching TV and disappear into our own world without going into a different room.
  7. its joyful to see the colours on the page.
  8. When you have completed a colouring-in it leaves a lovely warm glow of satisfaction.
  9. If you add a bit of folding, cutting or even sticking you can carry your inspirations around in your bag, or put it on the bed side table, anywhere you will catch a glimpse of your work and remember....
  10. Remember how creative, clever, brilliant, fabulous, wonderful and absolutely as happy as you can be in a world of your own making. 
If you would like to colour your own little book of happiness its simple and free. Click here:
Little of Happy Colouring

Simple steps to Make Yourself Happy

  • click link. print sheet. 
  • (If your printer allows set to borderless)

    • relax, have fun, get colouring.

    • get folding : fold in half  long ways.
    • open out
    • fold in half short ways - then fold that fold back to centre.
    • turn over -then fold that fold back to centre.
    • open out

    • cut along the dotted line ( through the middle of the centre )

    • take the whole sheet and PINCH in the centre

    it will be obvious where you should form the book! ( hopefully)

    H is for HAPPINESS - that's the front.

    If you are unsure contact me 

    I'd love to see your finished books!

    Friday, 16 October 2015

    My Mindful-Day Musings

    I didn’t wake with the intention of paying attention; it crept up on me as the sun shone into my bedroom showing up the cobwebs that accumulated above my head; the benefit of not doing thorough housework. As I made my way to the kitchen the wooden floor beneath my bare feet felt as if it had been buffed in the night, I noticed a light sheen and a certain softness. Then tea tasted fresher than usual. The colours brighter. Perhaps I should pay attention to this? And so I decided to see what it would be like to spend the day in heightened awareness, to practice mindfulness at all times.

    It was a fairly ordinary Friday, chores to do, admin to catch up on; I wanted to make a cake but nothing that arduous. I was going to be alone for most of the day and I choose not to have any distractions from the radio or internet. It was warm enough to have the doors open and hang out the washing, a task that took a while longer than normal as the clothes smelt extra good, the plastic pegs more fun. As I noticed everything going on in my garden it was as if I had opened my eyes of the first time. In meditation class we are asked to come out of the practice with a sense of having no previous knowledge of the space we inhabit. By 11 am on my mindful day I was taking in information from my senses that I had never been aware of before. And in doing so time slowed down. The simplest task took on new meaning. Washing up was a sensuous experience of bubbles, and light ,and warmth, sweeping the floor a swishy dance with the broom, the touch of the magazines as I created orderly piles left me bemused that I hadn’t noticed how ‘paper’ felt. My mind, my feelings, my sense of edges and space became sharper on one level and totally blurred on another. 

    The afternoon got tripper. I decided to go out into the sunshine to the park, which took quite some time as I felt the need to keep stopping and smiling. I’m sure anyone watching me would have been convinced drugs were involved. By this point in the day I had lost any idea of ‘trying’ to be mindful I was living in the zone. Absolutely ‘out there’. I was experiencing a sensation of floating along whilst being in complete control of where I wished to focus my attention. London has some amazing outdoor spaces. On this particular autumn afternoon my mindset and the light combined to create a paradise. 

    I have read a little about ‘Bliss Fields’ and that is the nearest expression I can find to articulate how I felt as I lay on the grass and meditated. I could have stayed here for eternity. It all sounds so ‘New Age’ but I am a grounded urban reality dweller, all be it a Pollyanna-ish one. I was never one for drug taking, but if I could bottle this day I would, just so I could share it with anyone in need of an instant happy fix. 

    I meet my husband and daughter for a glass of wine in the early evening and aimed to explain to them my ‘enlightened’ day without sounding too whacky. That didn’t work of course….. they just think I’m odder than usual. And I did notice that although the first glass of wine tasted rich and delicious by the second glass the edge was wearing of my heightened awareness and I felt as if I was coming back down to earth. I felt quite like Alice in Wonderland; I had eaten the cake marked ‘HAPPY’ but discovered I could deflate back to ‘NORMAL’ with the help of a glass of red. Lesson being if you want to stop feeling blissfully happy knock the edge off joyful emotions with alcohol! 

    The next day it was business as usual. I didn’t feel any kind of come down, any remorse that I was no longer ‘open to the elements; life felt good, as it does most days with ups and downs, light and shade. 

    I’m not a writer; I don’t have the vocabulary to do justice to these feelings. I would almost rather not commit this day to words but I don’t want to forget. I did take photos all day to attempt to capture a visual story. I suspect it will be a while before I can capture the essence again. It has encouraged me to notice more every day. Mindfulness has become more integrated; I am just doing it, being it. I smile more, analyse less. The slightly out of mind and body way of being that day was a mini break that I think has changed my perception of the benefits of mindfulness. I achieve ten minutes of focused daily practise and will schedule a mindful day once a month, if you fancy giving it a try I’d love to hear your experiences.

    Friday, 25 September 2015

    Who do I want to be? SHINE Explores Choices.

    When I reflect on the choices I make daily in my life, I am reminded of one of my existential heroes, Sartre, who said that ‘Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself’. We are the choices we make; from simple decisions like whether to wear shoes or boots to complex ones which have more far reaching consequences, such as whom to marry. (Generally I have found both, that is footwear and marriage, equally intresting dilemmas!)   We may make those choices in relation to the world round us, but we can decide on which window to open, where to cast our gaze and fundamentally what kind of person we wish to be. I can choose how to shape my future. I am not determined by my past. What motivates me is forward looking, I imagine how I want my day to be and my actions fit with this image. If I want my life to be fit, healthy and active I make the choices about what to eat and how much to exercise. And because I ‘own’ that choice, it is exciting and encourages me without feeling like a chore. Likewise if I make the choice to write a blog piece rather than take a walk in the sun I don’t feel I am denying myself because I have chosen where to direct my energies. I have learnt along the way what stimulates me most, what I value in life, and use that knowledge to influence the choices I make. I may not always take a route that others would choose but that’s part of the fun. It’s my way. When I take full responsibility for my actions I am excited by all the possible paths available to me. Yes there will always be things I can’t do but in focusing on the things I can my life is filled with immense joy, passion and purpose.

    Shine counselling doesn’t offer us the option to sit around and ponder a cure for our ills, or wait until we are ‘actualised’; it asks us who we want to, be then inspires us to make the most of every day to become that person. To engage with life, to value and cherish every moment, every encounter along the way; to value our daily struggles and chaos with a smile on our face.

    Shine counselling focuses on what is good with your life. The basic starting point is that we are all well-whole-balanced beings; we don’t need to be fixed. We have all the internal resources we will ever need but along the way they may have been mislaid or buried, we merely need to find a way to reconnect with them in order to be our most authentic healthy happy self.

    The Shine ideology encourages a positive focus and emphasises positive emotions. It takes an essentially humanistic and existential viewpoint that what we experience is fundamental to who we are. The moment-to-moment flow of consciousness, feelings, perceptions and relations to the world around us is basic to our sense of self. It also stresses the choices we have in how we see our world and the responsibility we have for that position. It looks at the admirable strengths we all possess and how we can develop those attributes to increase our happiness and flourish. 

    Counselling in general involves change:

    · Change in the way we see ourselves or our world

    · Change in the way we think about ourselves or our world

    · Change in the way we feel about ourselves or our world

    · Change in the way we behave

    Sometimes we need support when we make the decision to implement change, when a new client contacts me I ask "How can I help?"
    Clients come to counselling for varied reasons but often with a specific goal, a challenge or focus for change. They make the choice about what they want to change. Often they find that the process of discovery spreads out into other areas of their lives leading to new enriched meaning and purpose. Shine sessions act as a breath of fresh air, clearing out accumulated debris, making room for renewed energy and bringing an experience of the essence of ‘who I am’; a unique, distinctive being proactively engaging with the world, who can choose to stand up and SHINE.

    Tuesday, 15 September 2015

    10 Tips For A Stress-less LFW

    Whilst the world looks on at the glamorous coming and goings of Fashion Week, from New York to London, Paris to Milan, they don't see the high-pressure environments that those in the business are all too familiar with. A wild moment when a designer is pushed to breaking point…maybe that will make a tabloid headline. But the designers, buyers, show producers, PR agencies, journalists - the people who sell fashion - are experiencing stress beyond the daily grind of the banker or business owner; indeed they are responsible for an industry worth over £20bn.

    Fashion Week is notoriously exhausting…..Imran Amed from the website Business of Fashion coined the expression “fashion week fatigue”. The pace is relentless and it’s all too easy to get swept up in the round of shows, meetings and parties.

    The British Fashion Council runs The Model Zone as part of the Model Health Programme to ensure the well-being of models during London Fashion Week but what support is available for the designers and their teams, or the photographers, buyers and journalists who rush from show to show, often without eating anything, then drinking at after-parties late into the night – hardly a healthy way of doing things? All of this comes with the commercial pressure of balancing creativity with making large amounts of money; the whimsy of fashion, of getting it wrong, of trying to please everyone, keeping a brand in the spotlight and protecting others jobs as well as your own. It’s no surprise that fashion as an industry is as beset with mental health issues as any other high value business, and to compound this those on the inside are expected to look amazing and deal with the envy for the super shiny lifestyle that outsiders perceive goes along with the whole package. Fashion demands perfection; there is a sense that if fashion insiders do have mental health problems and fall short of the demands to create excellence each season, then those who succumb to the pressure will be scandalised or ostracized.

    So how can you protect your well-being this LFW whilst performing and having fun?

    1. Make a plan – set your intention each day – What do you actually have to achieve? What shows must you see? What appointments are absolutely essential? Map out those ‘MUSTS’ then figure in some slots in between for ‘WANTS’.

    2. Be reasonable about your time, there are only so many hours in the day, and even in the geographical boundaries of Soho getting around can be time consuming, factor in delays and late showings.

    3. And when things do run late, or the unexpected upsets the schedule, use the extra time to be mindful. Remember its only fashion!

    4. If the stress is building for others don’t react to their rudeness; stay calm in your centre, there is no need to personalise others bad behaviour.

    5. Prioritise a set space to take a walk outside, alone, taking deep breathes and just being. Find something to make you smile and allow that smile to spread down to the tips of your toes.

    6. Just because its fashion week your usual wellness rituals can still apply, take time for the gym, for yoga, for eating properly. And sleep. All of that may sound far-fetched but can be achieved London is buzzing with health and fitness. You will function much more efficiently if you take care of yourself.

    7. Preparing for emotional stress and having a contingency plan should you feel overwhelmed increases control; you are reinforcing strength and capability. (Rescue Remedy chewing gum and roll-on stress relief oil may be a good idea)

    8. If it all gets a little mad retire to the nearest loo and close your eyes for 5 minutes. Place your hands over your ears to block out the outside and think of the most beautiful place you can imagine, transport yourself to the beach of your dreams. Imagination is the life blood of this industry, use the skill to your advantage.

    9. Just as with any stress if you find yourself unable to cope don’t feel you need to deal with anxiety alone. Feeling a bit of extra strain during fashion week is one thing but an on-going sense of angst that causes you to ignore your emotions is damaging in the long term. Working in the exciting world of fashion doesn’t protect you from depression, be aware if it is all getting too much and find the support you need before it becomes a problem. Preventive mental health is as important as protecting your physical health.

    10. There is life after fashion week and it will all go back to normal in a month…until February that is.

    Tuesday, 1 September 2015

    Weddings & Special Events: How stay in the Calm Zone.

    A wedding is a major life event and like so many areas in our lives can cause us to become stressed as well as excited.

    The stress hormones and those involved in excitement often feel (in our bodily responses) the same; sometimes we find it hard to differentiate whether a racing heart, sweaty palms and that churning in the stomach are reactions to fear or anticipation of pleasure.

    Mindfulness can help us to make an accurate evaluation of the physical feelings we are experiencing at such times. And focusing on the body allows the alarm moment to pass. We take a breath as we turn our attention internally; this moment is all we need to come back to the present. We don’t have to respond to the trigger and are able to let it fade away.

    They may be times in the build up to an important event, such as a wedding or a presentation deadline when the stress of getting to the goal seems overwhelming, even becoming so familiar it seems normal. We want to be able to utilise the positive energy of adrenalin without upsetting our balance and activating too much cortisol into the mix. Spending too much time in the ‘Stress Zone’ is exhausting and counter productive.

    Enjoy Life in the Calm Zone

    It helps to recognize your own ways of responding to stress by self-mapping.
    • What are your thoughts telling you? Are you ruminating on negative self talk? Are you rushing decisions without taking the time to think them through? Learn to recognize thoughts as temporary, fallible, and symptomatic.
    • What is your body telling you? Are aches and pains a sign that you are not taking as much self care as you need? Is lack of sleep aggravating stress? Listen to the way your body feels with compassion, allow yourself the time for physical self care.
    • How are you behaving? Are you withdrawing from others? Drinking too much? Returning to unhelpful habits? Eating less or more? Recognize behaviour that runs on autopilot as unsupportive.
    • What are your emotions saying? Are tears a sign you are becoming overwhelmed? Are you snappy and irritable? Are you feeling restless and can’t settle ? do you have a sense of sadness? Do you feel you are in this alone? Create a non-reactive space in your head where you can observe your emotions, acknowledge them and then allow them to naturally fall away.
    In the run up to a major event learn to say ‘No’ and give yourself real space to activate relaxation. Having a meditation practice, doing yoga, reading, walking, dancing, running, painting, whatever works for you to put you in the ‘Calm Zone’.

    Sometimes it helps to have the support of a therapist when we know that stressful times are on the horizon. We can use counselling and hypnotherapy as an adjunct to prevent the build-up of pre-event anxiety. One of the techniques commonly applied in hypnotherapy is rehearsing in our subconscious a future occasion, in this way we can preload our minds with a positive outcome and deal with possible negative ideas that would spoil the situation if left to irritate.

    Fostering a calm and tranquil attitude to big occasions will make the day flow and help all the good memories to embed in your mind……so that when you look forward to looking back you get a flood of feel good hormones all over again.

    Friday, 28 August 2015

    5 Reasons September is the perfect month……. to set new goals.

    September has always been the most natural time for me to re-invent myself. September is my birthday month so my renewal date. A time to look back, clear out and start afresh. (3 step SHINE programme – simple!) 
    What have I achieved in the last 12 months? Where do I want to be in 12 months’ time? Am I on track with my thoughts, feelings and actions all working together?

    It also happens to be my wedding anniversary so a good time to take stock of the health of my marriage; having been divorced previously, I think it’s important to have an annual relationship audit before things slip beyond repair. 
    An unromantic preventative measure perhaps but it helps me to appreciate how important this relationship is to me, and reminds me to keep working on ensuring it continues to be so.

    For those of you without a September birthday the following may inspire you to do your own life audit and set some new goals……

    1. Post-holiday inspiration

    When we have spent some time way from our usual environment, perhaps on the beach or relaxing in the countryside, the space allows our mind to wander. This can be disconcerting; thoughts we have supressed bubble up, bringing forth hopes and aspirations that we have buried under busy-ness. But when we return to reality it can be useful to reflect on what has arisen in that quiet time, what do we want to act on, what do we need to let go off?

    Before getting caught back up in the daily routine look at what made you feel good when you were on holiday. How can you add that to your life more often? Rather than wait until next year for that holiday feeling augment your current life with those ideas and bask in the glow.

    2. back to school memories

    Do you remember the excitement of a new autumn term? Buying shoes, a new pencil case? Finding your way around a different school? The chance of reinventing yourself in a setting where the rules require you to think in novel ways?

    We often confuse excitement and fear as the physiological reactions are similar, the energy from both can be unnerving. Whether you have positive back to school feelings, or recall nervous anticipation, you can draw on your childhood ‘new term’ drive to motivate adult goals. Those feelings are logged in our subconscious and the process of tapping into them can be extremely fruitful.

    3. Harvest time

    And talking of fruitfulness, the abundance of nature in September feels as if we are being given a gentle nudge to take the time to reflect on cycles, passing time, growth; organic progressions that are us intrinsic to us as they are to all other natural forms.

    Being mindful of the rich colours, the smell of crisp morning air, and the feelings stirred up by the change of season can be powerful prompts to march on with vigour. 

    4. Wardrobe edits

    Taking the time to pack up summer whites and bring the black jeans to the front of the pack is a good time to think of who you want to be. Do the choices you made this time last year still resonate with who you want to be?

    Do the jeans still fit? And why are you hanging on to ideas that no longer suit the frame of mind you have grown into.

    Change is inevitable and should be embraced joyously…… look forward to snuggling up in chunky sweaters with mugs of steaming soup and a journal full of inspiring projects.

    5. Christmas thoughts

    Some say it takes 21 days for a new habit to become habitual. If you start in September healthy habits will be well and truly integrated by Christmas. Three months of change and the rewards of virtuous living will SHINE out of every pore.

    Wednesday, 19 August 2015

    Thankfulness: Mindful Appreciation

    Thankfulness? Why not gratitude?

    There is something about the word ‘Gratitude’ that grates on me; it makes me feel that an outside force is prompting me to look at how lucky I am, that I should be ‘bloody well grateful’. The commodification of the ‘attitude of gratitude’- buying a specific journal, having to think of three reasons every day to be grateful - feels fake to me.

    However I am motivated to be thankful; a natural response for my appreciation of the good in life is to say “thank you”.Thankfulness has a lovely fullness about it; an overflowing of thanks, of being so full up with thanks that I can’t wait to share it, so full of wellbeing that I know how good it is for me without needing to be reminded.

    And it worries me when I am encouraged to be grateful as a tool to increase my health rather than enjoying the experience of noticing, and appreciating, the daily pleasure of saying thank you.

    Three Types of Thankfulness:

    1. Giving thanks (external)

    • We say thank you for what someone has done for us – thank you for the gift, thank you for your email, thank you for unstacking the dishwasher.
    • We say thank you for what someone means to us – thank you for being you, thank you for being there when I needed you, thank you for listening.
    • We express thanks when we feel in awe of the world around us. Thank you to an external source whose creativity we appreciate but haven’t got a direct line to.
    2. Giving thanks (internal)
    • Saying thank you to ourselves when we have done a good job; noticing when we can give ourselves a pat on the back, showing kindness and appreciation for all the ways in which we make it through each day.
    3. Receiving thanks
    • How mindful are we when someone offers us a heartfelt thank you? Often we brush it off, we feel uncomfortable when our efforts are acknowledged. But accepting thanks is as important as offering it. Relationships are enhanced when we are equals, when we can give and take with good grace. Recognising the gift of a thank you as an act of friendship, a token of love, a sign that we are worthy, generates pleasant feelings all round.

    The Relationship of Thankfulness to Increased Well-being:

    Gratitude research suggests that we benefit in a multitude of ways when we practise daily gratefulness; greater emotional stability, healthier relationships, better physical health, enhanced happiness and increased productivity at work.

    I am concerned that, whilst these are all valuable and positive reasons to be grateful, they are external goals that place gratitude on our ‘to do’ list. Another task to tick off at the end of the day.

    Thankfulness, in the way I like to perceive it, is intrinsically motivated. Expressing thanks becomes a quiet practice that embeds itself deeply in our core values. A way of being that fosters our self-acceptance and amplifies our experience of wholeness.

    When we express thanks, for ourselves or others or the wonders of the world, or we acknowledge others appreciation of ourselves, our brains respond by releasing feel good hormones. Dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin make us feel even more loved and valued, giving us more reasons to be thankful. The virtuous cycle of thankfulness, the ebb and flow of being thanked, of communicating thankfulness, generates strong relationship bonds, both to others and to the way we relate to ourselves.

    Thankfulness doesn’t need an app to remind us to be grateful; it gently encourages us with every ‘thank you’ uttered that this is what feels good and right.

    See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/11706352/Gratitude-the-latest-self-help-trend-that-could-change-your-life.html

    Sunday, 9 August 2015

    10 Tips for a super Shine Sunday

    How will you SHINE today?

    SHINE tips & how I spend my SHINE Sundays

    1.     Be mindful of every moment.

    From the minute you open your eyes look, listen, observe, feel, smell, and hear; use all your senses to build up an in-depth picture of the world around you. Be aware of each tiny nuance, does the sun on your cheek makes your skin more sensitive? Does your coffee taste better if you smell it with yours eyes closed? If you open the window can you stop the traffic noise and only hear the birdsong. How does your toothpaste really taste. How do the washing up bubbles sound when they pop?
    I’ve noticed that when I truly take the time to be mindful even normal routine events take on a magical feel, the dishes on the side glow with loveliness as the water droplets sparkle in the sun.

    2.     Be aware of inside as well as outside.

    Listen to your heart and your gut, notice your thoughts and self-talk. What is occurring outside to create that on the inside? When you feel that moment a smile begins to form ask yourself “where was my mind?” And take notice of where that smile spreads to in the rest of your body. We often pay more attention to physical sensations of unhappiness; we notice a heavy heart, than we do of joyful sensations.  When we can feel the moment that we light up and what we were doing when the feeling was created we can do more of it. My’ light up moments’ often occur when I am in my kitchen on my own baking. I go into the ‘zone’, I become focused, peaceful and operate in a space that transcends time. I get this sense when playfully creating in other ways too; cutting, sticking, collaging, making a mess with paper. I can feel like this when I dance and sometimes in a yoga class. These are the things that I go back to time and time again because I know they are guaranteed to make me glow from the inside.

    3.     Step outside of time.

    Some days whizz past and others drag on. On a day when you haven’t got to be anywhere or do anything in a set time it’s lovely to not to wear a watch or look at the clock. Who cares what time you have lunch or shower? Stopping, being still, being quiet, just being (some call it meditation) takes you out of normal clock time; minutes seem like hours, hours can pass in seconds. And both the speeding up or slowing down are interesting to observe. Just watching the day go by without a list is luxurious. There will always be another day to step back into.

    4.     Do what you love the most just because you can.

    So back to baking, cutting and sticking, dancing and yoga! Not because of the end result; the cake to eat, the image to look at, the calories burnt or the fact that you can master breathing whilst standing on one leg, but just for the sheer pleasure of doing.

    5.     Do something differently (as opposed to doing something different)

    There is a time for trying new things but what if you take the things you love doing most and do them a bit different, with a twist? I love drinking Rose in the summer but wanted to see what an alcohol free august would feel like. So instead of chilled wine with ice I fill a jug with iced water, lime, mint and jasmine; it is my new taste of summer. It’s the same feeling (a glass of cool refreshing fun )  but different.
    I love cakes but don’t love sugar  or wheat so tweak recipes and find inspiration in alternative ways to bake; same amount of pleasure in both the making and the eating.
    Dancing is a joy, I do love a Zumba class but when my normal class wasn’t available I discovered Sha’bam and now I have a choice of fun dance classes. When my hatha yoga time changed I did an Iyengar class,its now my favourite.
    Try branching out rather than moving to a new neck of the woods!

    6.     Share.

    My ‘Sunday Best’ moments may seem solitary but I am lucky to be surrounded by people I love and when I have finished my happy making baking (or messy play) they are there to share the enjoyment.  We love to exchange our private creative worlds to gather together and reconnect. I am very lucky to have common interests with my closest family; they too like cooking, creating, dancing and yoga. We all enjoy each other’s creativity, and like to extend that pleasure by sharing with friends, and friends of friends, sometimes the more the merrier.

    7.     Find time for Awe.

    The world is a wonderful place. Appreciate the light and the shadow. Find the good in everything. Earlier this year, when I would usually have been readying my garden for summer, I had a pressing family issue that needed my attention. My garden is a little different this summer; left it to its own devices, it has chosen wild abandon as a theme and consequently it is teeming with butterflies and bees. Nature has stepped in and from my window I am delighted with a ‘Shabby Chic’ vision of a suburban garden. The herbs have flowered; the angelica is touching 6ft, tall grasses rustle like percussion instruments, abundance is everywhere I look.  I have huge admiration for the environments ability to generate such beauty.

    8.     Be Grateful

    Yes, so, it’s a bit of a cliché but it is a truism. I am lucky. There are days when I want to walk around hugging everyone and saying how much I love them; how grateful I am to have them in my life.  It can get on peoples nerves. I wasn’t designed to be cynical (yes I’m lucky… and grateful for that!)I’m lucky to be alive. I don’t want to take that for granted though; I’m very grateful for those who aren’t and who have taught me to value the preciousness of life.
    Always say thank you, it’s not hard.

    9.     Accept the appreciation of others.

    How comfortable are you when someone shows their gratitude to you? Sometimes taking complements or hearing a ‘thank you’ makes us feel uncomfortable; we feel awkward when a friend says “I think you’re super….thank you for being there.”
    I spent yesterday evening with a friend who I don’t see as often as I would like, I wanted to show her I cared by cooking supper; she showed her thankfulness of our friendship by bringing me flowers. We both know that we are there for each other.
    Next time that happens allow that feeling of being loved to find a place in your body to settle; tuck it way for a rainy day when you need reminding of how special you are.

    10.Have Fun

    Be silly. Be inappropriate. Do daft things. Laugh. Stand on one leg or your   head if you can. Do cartwheels. Smile. Blow bubbles. Blow kisses. Chase clouds. Follow rainbows. Wear coloured tights. Go to the library. Lie on the grass. Experience life from a new angle. Love more. Eat more avocados. Finger paint (with mashed up avocado?) Make daisy chains.
    Enjoy xxx


    Friday, 24 July 2015

    Therapy: The Wellness Model

    Counselling can be used to make a good life great. Just as we work out with a personal trainer to increase our motivation and assist us in reaching our fitness goals, so we can utilise positive life counselling to overhaul  our views, emotions and mental perspectives to realize our full potential. The wellness model of counselling is a personal training session for our mental health fitness.

    So how can it help?

    Positive Life Counselling can:
    ·         Explore roadblocks that may be stopping you from achieving your best.
    ·         Make achieving happiness a priority.
    ·         Prepare you for one off events that may cause anxiety.
    ·         Encourage staying on the path when your resolve is slipping.
    ·         Highlight areas of your life that you are avoiding but that you would benefit from working on.
    ·         Help us learn, grow, become more mindful and respond to life with choice rather than being tossed  around by our emotions.
    ·         Be a catalyst for changing areas our life beyond the issues we bring to therapy.
    ·         Renew our vigour, energy and fun; we revitalise our passion for life.
    ·         Motivate us to replace unhealthy habits with new ones that increase our physical and mental    wellbeing.
    ·         Bring about a balance in all of our relationships; intimate, family or friendships.
    ·         Make us calmer better parents who know how to help our children achieve their full potential.
    ·         Focus us on work goals and how we want our career to enhance our life goals.
    ·         Show us how to find our purpose in life and work out your true passions.

    Counselling offers an opportunity to spend an hour each week just focusing on ‘you’. The only subject matter is yourself; you can explore, proclaim and revel in being you. It is a unique space where you can practice how it would be to be different in a totally confidential environment. Once you have experienced change in the therapy setting you are prepared to take it outside the room and into the world without fear.

    Reasons to try counselling

    Understanding your past can release you from it; our past plays a role in who we are but it doesn’t have to determine who we become

    What we perceive is our reality; each of us has a unique and valid viewpoint which can get obscured by circumstances. When we polish off the lens we are able to see the shine on the world around us

    Ultimately all counselling enables us to become our own therapist; we are encouraged to treat ourselves with kindness, compassion and understanding. We can be our own best friend.

     Learn to slow down; time in therapy is like pressing the pause button; we explore the journey outside of the fast pace we more usually experience, the focus is so often on the destination we don’t have the time to enjoy the process. In therapy we allow ourselves to be rather than do which frees us to become more authentic outside the room.

    Counselling encourages intimacy in all our relationships; it increases our emotional intelligence, we are able to satisfy our own needs, rather than place unrealistic demands on others, and in doing so we become more confident. All of our relationships are strengthened.

    To find out more visit www.shinecounselling.co.uk

    Sunday, 12 July 2015

    Walk & Talk

    What happens when we take therapy outside the four walls of a room?

    Just a few thoughts…..

    Rhythmic exercise may have an impact on self-discovery.
    Moving enables us to loosen the tensions that cause us to be ‘stuck’ in a set way of thinking.
    Activity releases mood enhancing hormones that bring about deeper more creative thinking.
    We may feel inhibited by the close confines of a room; being out in the open allows us to become less self-conscious.
    Creative thinking, ‘outside the box’ is increased by being ‘outside the room’.
    Changing the position in relationship to the therapist, walking parallel rather than sitting face-to-face, may make it easier to discuss difficult ideas.
    When we are physically walking a new path we may open up new paths in our inner dialogue.
    Movement literally and figuratively propels us forward; we are encouraged to make metaphorical progress.
    The experience of freedom in the great outdoors may relinquish the social constraints that hinder revelations in a more traditional therapy setting.
    When the therapist and client are walking together they will fall into step, the pattern of their breathing will align, the will match each other’s pace; becoming synchronised enriches empathy.
    Sitting is passive, walking actively encourages taking responsibility for progress.
    Walking together is a shared adventure in which both parties are equal.

    We may reach a point at which we become lost in the process; walking and talking then becomes a meditative practice and allows deep access to our subconscious.

    Walk & Talk with Rebecca

    Friday, 10 July 2015

    Zumba Therapy

    We all know that exercise is good for us, “healthy body, healthy mind”, but I think it goes deeper than making us fitter, stronger or calmer. I believe that some forms of activity reflect the same process of change that takes place within the therapy room. And some instructors are conducting sessions that are life changing for the participants.
    Many studies show positive links between physical fitness and brain function. Exercise literally changes the brain, stimulating new  cells (neurogenesis). Vigorous activity grows new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, the area responsible for certain types of remembering. Children who exercise regularly achieve better academic results, find it easier to pay attention and are generally calmer and happier. Exercising as adults reduces the damage of daily stresses on our brain, improving memory and mood. Physical fitness translates into mental fitness. When we exercise we produce more of the hormone Dopamine which helps us to be creative, focus, and remain emotionally balanced. As we age a regular activity programme can stave off many of the degenerative cognitive issues that a sedentary lifestyle appears to encourage.
    So far so good; exercise of any kind is good for our brain, and therfore our mental health. But I think Zumba is even better than that. I feel that Zumba classes and Zumba teachers create the core conditions that are necessary to induce positive change.


    A Zumba class allows people to be in a relationship (with the other participants and the teacher) where they experience themselves as understood and accepted for who they are, by an instructor who interacts with them genuinely and sincerely.

     “If I can provide a certain type of relationship the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change and personal development will occur” Rogers

    The three core conditions are:
    Congruence – the ability to be yourself.
    Acceptance - (Unconditional Positive Regard) being accepted and respected for who you are.
    Empathy –  to be understood in your own terms.

    Many Zumba teachers will recognize the participant who flourishes after a few weeks of coming to class. The shy girl at the back starts to wear brighter leggings, she no longer glances nervously around, but joyfully ‘whoops’ with the pleasure of moving her body. And of course some of this can be attributed to the purely physiological benefits of exercise. However  in my experience the attendees of Zumba classes are always warm welcoming and encouraging to ‘Newbies’ and Zumba teachers  positive, accepting and understanding.  Every class creates a space where we can be ourselves without feeling judged, a special kind of bonding encounter that keeps people coming back week after week and complete acceptance for all ages, shapes and sizes.
    I wonder how many Zumba fans have made life changing decisions after taking classes for a couple of months;  finally getting up the courage to start saying ‘no’, or taking more control at work and asking for recognition, or even leaving an unhappy relationship.
    Zumba teachers notice the changes taking place in their class and are able to adapt with speed and flexibility to the needs of each participant in any particular session. Zumba teachers are great at judging the ‘feeling’ of the class and changing the tracks to respond accordingly. The whole time continue to support, encourage and smile; role models that class members mirror in their energy and their optimistic outlook.  Neuroscientists discovered  ‘mirror neurons’ which fire both when we perform an action and when we see someone else perform the same action; when they fire they enable us to understand others goals, intentions and emotions. Many scientists believe that empathy is largely explained by the existence of mirror neurons.  When we mirror the Zumba teacher’s body movements and happy energy in class we become part of a positive cycle of congruence, acceptance and empathy.