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.