Category Archives: Stress

Debt at Christmas

The financial squeeze on your purse.

Audio duration 05:40   Reading duration 7:00 average.

Before we launch into debt at Christmas time. Yesterday we took a look at Christmas overindulgence and keeping a handle on your choices and portions of food and alcohol, without living to regret it.

I also mentioned the benefits of ensuring you get an adequate amount of restful sleep on the lead up to the Christmas festivities.In my final blog, I’m taking a look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations – and yesterday I left you to mull over a few questions.

I wondered what you would consider doing differently this year if your personal experience of Christmas debt had left you wishing that you’d planned better financially for this holiday period. Or just to do things differently by starting those conversations now with those you share gifts with, and setting some financial parameters.

What happens if you splash the cash?

Debt at Christmas

Financial panic creates significant stress!

You may say that Fear of Debt at Christmas time is not an easy feeling to tackle. Especially if the ‘cash-cow has already bolted!’

If it’s not too late, then some considerations right now would be putting on the sensible hat and creating a budget. It may also mean having those conversations where you can discuss what is reasonable with a partner, friends or family members.

And that can include the children’s presents too!

Ideas!

Now keeping in mind that I’m not a financial advisor, and just like you could, I’ve been reading sources that give advice and overall it seems that,

Common sense dictates that we would:

  • Set a budget, and decide not to follow the trends or those sneaky advertising campaigns.  Work out who you need to buy for and stick to that list.
  • Have an agreed spending budget with your partner, so neither of you ends up with debt as a result of ‘showing your love.’
  • Avoid impulse buying by planning your visit to the shopping centre during quieter periods. There’s a positive psychological bias to shopping during quiet periods.
  • If you’re using a credit card keep all purchases on the one card, don’t spread out the charges. That way you can keep tabs on what you’re actually spending.
  • Don’t go wild on toy purchases, stick to one or two that you know will retain the children’s interest once the emotion of Christmas Day has passed. Usually an hour or two after getting out of bed!

‘A promise to myself.’

Make a promise to yourself by setting aside funds which means you won’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off. Choose gifts that are meaningful and purposeful for those you love, rather than expensive and financially debilitating.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach like gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’ 

Personalised gifts you make yourself. 

Have a peek by clicking here at Pinterest for ideas

Debt at Christmas

I made this myself!

Secret Santa exchange of gifts can be agreed amongst family it doesn’t only have to be for work colleagues.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach to gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source  – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’

Seek financial advice from a reputable source.

If you do find yourself running into financial difficulty over the Holiday festivities, then it could be time to seek help.  Do seek advice sooner rather than later when you are at your wits end worrying about how you are going to manage to pay the bills.

You could use your Google or another web search engine to find a list of ‘Non-Profit Credit Counselling Services’ for your country. 

In the UK we many options, including the more well-known Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Click here for debt solution and advisory services Citizens Advice UK

Click here for government UK National debt advisory service on debt consolidation 

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs looking at what could help you and those you love have a happier and stress-free Christmas and New Year.

You may find that applying one or two of these tips from across my countdown to Christmas series very helpful at keeping you on track. With the stamina to get through the holiday period, enjoy time either doing things for yourself or with family and friends.  And that could make a significant difference to your enjoyment and your wallet too.

Even if you focus on just one or two things, the overall effect could be a brilliant Christmas experience with far less stress, compared to those of the past.

The overall message starts from blog 1 in My Christmas Countdown series (click here to revisit)

Click on the links below if you would like to download any of my free resources. And where you can find the documents that accompanied this series:

Good luck and happy holidays!

And thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page

Christmas overindulgence

How to get ahead of Christmas overindulgence

Day 5 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 07:30   Reading duration 9:00   average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

The story so far in the first four blogs in this six-episode series has included:

  • Expectation and experience
  • Loneliness and initiatives to make it a better day
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Christmas Fun – perfection!

Today’s blog discovers how we can control Christmas overindulgence.

Christmas overindulgence

Yummy! Just how much means too much?

Never mind the day itself – the lead up to Christmas can have people over-committing to pre-Christmas events, reaching for the alcohol and stuffing themselves with food.  It’s a de-stress, comfort thing! Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

While it’s okay to take a break from moderating our eating or drinking, there is still some wisdom in resisting the urge to overindulge massively.

There’s nothing worse than waking up with the dreaded hangover, whereas excessive bingeing can lead to sickness – not to forget unwanted weight gain.

I guess some people would say what the heck, those extra Christmas pounds can be worked off in the new year. It is, after all, a personal choice how much to consume.

Overindulgence of alcohol though can have some nastier effects not only on oneself but those around you.  That’s why it’s a good idea to learn what is okay to have in moderation and of course don’t drink and drive if consuming any alcohol.

For information on alcohol units, and to help you be more drink aware, please click here. 

Ideas!

Agree with yourself as to how you’ll put the brakes on eating an entire Christmas cake or guzzling a whole bottle wine or ‘mothers ruin’ (in the UK this refers gin!). You could even consider making yourself accountable with timely reminders on your phone, or announce there will be no Christmas overindulgence for you by writing it down and sticking it on – THE FRIDGE OR CUPBOARD DOOR, in your purse or pocket.  Or is that little over-the-top? If so how could you make yourself more accountable for keeping your promise not to overindulge this Christmas?

We can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Anyone out there old enough to remember the Filofax or Leefax?  It was a way to write down your daily schedule and ensure no clashes in the planning.

People with these leather-bound organisers (me being one), would very often be heard to say, “I’ll just see if I have a window in my diary!” These days most people pop their commitments into their phone, or into a diary like Outlook or Google. Reminders pop-up and then we look in horror at the clashes of back to back meetings we are expected to attend.

Keeping track of what your priorities are.

So, if Christmas overindulgence also means trying to ‘frantically’ fit in every invitation then you may need to learn the art of saying ‘no thanks I’m not available then.’ Or words to that effect.

Not always easy if it’s the bosses party and you are expected to attend the Friday before Christmas day when mayhem and last-minute preparation is calling.

Whatever pre-Christmas events demand, late nights rolling home worse for wear can also mean that the next day’s plans get dashed too.  So, what activities would you prioritise as a ‘must attend?’ If travel is involved what amongst your ‘must-dos,’ do you prioritise and ensure you get them done first?

It’s all down to planning.

And if you’ve had a problem with planning in the past, then it’s time to either start early or team up with someone who is good at it.

The main message being, to watch out for over-committing yourself with additional responsibilities. Get organised create a plan and stick to your comfort zone. That way the unexpected invitations can be more instantly accepted or rejected because you’ll have assigned your time and you’ll be sticking to it.

Saying no thank you for any additional invitations to prevent that Christmas overindulgence isn’t always easy. It gets better with practice because you’re more authentic than the person who says yes and nods ‘oh no!’.

Step back and notice how much better you’ll feel if things are less chaotic.  Unless of course, you enjoy the chaos of Christmas overindulgence! Whatever your decision at least you’ll know that your actions are your own choices.

From previous experience what else has been overwhelming at Christmas time?

Time to get a handle on that before it happens again. If it’s appropriate, you could discuss your needs and concerns with others who may choose to help out by taking on a few of the tasks.

Alcohol and food choices.

Consider what better and healthier coping strategies you could bring in as a way of reducing the temptation and alleviating stress?

Ask yourself these questions:

Christmas overindulgence

Acting wisely will also save lives.

How would you take action to help you to not overeat or drink at the holiday celebrations?

What steps are you willing to take which will help keep any excess pounds off your waistline?

Keeping in mind if you feel that in moderation it’s okay to enjoy that extra slice of Christmas cake or glass of vino in preference to a whole bottle.

  • What else could you be doing to help keep those stress levels down? (see previous blogs for ideas)
  • What have you done before which worked and allowed you to manage your emotions better?

Getting a good night’s sleep

Make it a priority to ensure you’re getting to bed and not staying up till all hours every night before Christmas. The advantage of getting restful sleep will aid in keeping you healthy (fewer colds and flu) and enable you to think more clearly over the holiday period.

Sign up here to collect a free list of ideas for healthier coping strategies and some tried and tested tips on how to get a good night sleep in preparation for the holiday events.

Financial worries:

In my final blog, we look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations. The pressure of the media and specific brands to buy, buy, buy!   All those things, alongside youngsters or adult expectations, can ramp up those stress hormones and risk you going into debt.

  • If that was your story last year, then I wonder what you would consider doing differently this year?
  • What conversations could you have with loved ones to ensure everyone stays within their financial means?

Although I sincerely hope this won’t describe your circumstances:

  • What possible avenues are out there to help reduce your stress levels in the financial outlay before Christmas, and potential debt worries after Christmas.  Especially if finances have spiralled and you feel out of control.

I’ll be posting what others have done to prevent or help solve this issue in my last Christmas countdown blog called:

Debt at Christmas, ‘What happens if you Splash the Cash’

Until tomorrow thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

Christmas Fun

Making Christmas Fun – Perfection!

Day 4 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 6.50  Reading duration 8.00 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

Yesterday we took a look at how we deal with difficult people or situations across the holiday period. Specifically, within family dynamics, if your experience of Christmas doesn’t always mean fun. And this can apply to friendship circles too.

I suggested a simple technique to calm down any anger or frustration maybe much more quickly than your previous experiences. And that’s because knowledge is a powerful helper.

Especially if we can all learn how to be more authentic when dealing with others and pre-plan in a ‘grown-up, loving and respectful way.’

Back to today!

Christmas fun? Ditching perfection and letting go of expectation!

“It’s like releasing those caged worry birds so that they can migrate to pastures new.”

My way or the high way! How does that work for you?

Christmas Fun

I’m having Fun aren’t you?

Realistically we aren’t responsible for another person’s behaviour. And to be honest, as we discovered in yesterday’s blog, he or she or even YOU may be fulfilling some old ‘well-worn’ unique patterns of the family or friendship dynamic.

Wanting to be seen as presenting the perfect Christmas for family and friends can lead to lack of sleep, self-loathing and unfair comparisons to others.

We forget that while someone may be acting as if everything is going swimmingly, they may, in fact, be suffering from self-doubt or overwhelm themselves!

A sense of duty!

Visiting particular family members can be attached to a sense of duty.  Or the expectation to attend the office party the Friday before Christmas linked to the boss’s expectations or job politics.

Ideas?

Would you prefer to set time limits?

If this is possible, it means you’ve done your duty, and have an escape route back to something you’re looking forward to experiencing! And if the brain recognises the end game is in sight, then it can continue to calm down.

“Keep in mind that you aren’t caught in a ‘never-to-end’ cycle.”

And with some honest discussion with your loved ones NOW you could work out how to share those responsibilities and relieve some pressure.

Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect Christmas for family and friends. It’s natural for glitches to occur and can be part of the fun of Christmas.

What traditions make this period unique to you?

They may not be the same as another person. So, what if we learned to accept that people like to experience the holiday differently, and within reason allow this. (Teenagers in the house anybody?)

Memories can include laughter when something didn’t quite work out to plan because it becomes attached to the season of forgiveness and compassion.

A switch in attitude towards any bumps along the way may just allow old family tensions to disappear.

Fitting in those Christmas activities that have a significant meaning for each of you means things may not be ‘perfect,’ but everybody has a good time.

Sharing the love! – Delegation?

Christmas fun is more than eatting

Who else is up for the fun of Christmas prep?

If you don’t have to do everything yourself then get some buy-in and delegate.

Being a part of the action as a household team makes it a team effort, and it could be a memorable part of the Christmas fun!

Don’t expect your family or friends to read your mind which means if pre-Christmas tasks are becoming overwhelming it’s okay to ask for help.

For the extroverts amongst you that could include spending time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.

Sharing your “to do” list with others can mean that “a problem shared is a problem halved.” Even if they come home bearing a different brand of the chestnuts you usually buy! Or a 9-foot Christmas tree! (DIY skills next blog! NOT)

Back up planning

Take some time to consider the differences it could make if you also apply some thought to planning contingencies. For example, if traveling by train or on the roads close to Christmas.

 UK live National Rail information tracker here

And make it a year when last minute shopping is not part of the agenda, that could spoil the Christmas fun. and that includes your online shopping too.

So, let’s get planning the how, the when, the where and with who and not to forget for how long.  And we can still:

Learn to relax with uncertainty.

Experiment this year; you could feel better for it. You may even find yourself having FUN.

Remember that:  Things in life don’t always go as planned. If instead we make an effort to live with the uncertainty and have no expectations we may find the anxiety level can drop just that little bit more.

Adopting the attitude that no matter how things go, you’ll make the best of whatever happens, is a reasonable and more balanced way to seek to reduce the annual holiday stress levels.

Living in the moment.

Sometimes we can learn from some of our animal friends, who appear to have a natural way of living in the moment by not dwelling on past emotions or speculating about the future.  (I know they don’t have to do the Christmas shop.)

They can help calm down our human emotions just by watching them having fun! Or in the case of dogs, dragging their human companions out for a Christmas walk!

I couldn’t decide between kittens or puppies! I must admit to going via Google preferences on this choice. However, there are lots of ace puppies in the snow videos out there too. Have fun!  Next week and blog five is all about overindulgence, and I don’t just mean with food and alcohol! While in my final blog we take a look at taking back financial control or avenue’s you can choose if it’s spiralled out of control. Until then – thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

 

Christmas stress and difficult people.

Day 3 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 8.00  Reading duration 9.00 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

How do you deal with DIFFICULT PEOPLE?

Part and parcel of Christmas stress is ‘expectation and experience’ in the run-up to Christmas.    And last week we looked at ways to help you to handle the pressure.

Then in blog two, we looked at Loneliness at Christmas. I included some web links if you are somebody who would like to have a community involvement, as well a list of what some people enjoy if they decide to have a quiet day at home, or go away.

Welcome to this week and blog 3 of this 6-part series.

How do you deal with DIFFICULT relatives or friends?

Avoid Christmas stress

Christmas stress: “what have I forgotten now!”

Avoiding Christmas stress isn’t easy when we are dealing with the individual emotions and expectations. So how do you usually deal with ‘difficult people’ co-ordinating family visits, or the overwhelming demands on your limited spare time?

Sometimes the day arrives, and we can feel downright bored, hemmed in because we have to live up to what we think are the expectations for our behaviour on the day. And before you know it out comes the old arguments or teasing that feels uncomfortable.        Agggh!

Okay, so we need to get through this people. After all, we want everybody to enjoy their Christmas and get something that they will enjoy. Don’t we? (A-ha, there’s the rub!)

There may be a caveat to this!

If some things go wrong, we can find ourselves following old conditioning and start playing the blame game. Either blaming others or even putting ourselves down as inadequate.

Keep in mind that this can be an automatic learned response.

Something fascinating happens when families get together. We’re with people we love and care about, and yet by the end of the day, we can find we are tearing our hair out.

Each of your siblings appears to regress into old childhood or teenage behaviours? And that includes you! Disagreements surface and arguments start.

Past hurts flare up as everyone reverts to well-worn practiced habits from the past.

Christmas stress and the learned roles from childhood that forged the family identity.

Parents may find themselves reverting to an authority role (over their now adult children!) While siblings may start returning to their rebellious childhood phase, not being bothered to help out or lording it over the younger siblings.

Some people go into an adaptive childhood state looking for ways to fit in by taking on the role of the clown, or the pacifier.  Whatever was part of the family dynamics it can become exhausting and very stressful.

As adults out in the big-wide-world, these behavioural patterns would have been modified because new skills have been learned in how to get along with others. Some adults will have gone on to have families of their own.

Occasions like Christmas and the original family unit can be a trigger for past identities to resurface again.

In the grown-up state, we can find more balanced ways of interacting.

We just need to stop falling into the past and stay present. Mindfulness might describe this adult way of behaving as being in the moment.

How do I STOP myself from being a pain? How do I deal with others who are playing up!

Well, first of all, you now know what may potentially be going on.  And with this knowledge its ultra-important that you DO NOT start telling other people that they are behaving like a child.

Seriously don’t you’ll only live to regret it! Remember we are talking about automatic learned responses.

Let’s call it an environmental trigger that causes you, your siblings and your parents, even friends, to enter into familiar ‘trance states.’ These states can bring to the surface old habitual behaviour patterns.

Ideas?

When you start to change, others may follow.

If there was a way to catch yourself or bring to your awareness a reminder of what may be going on then you could imagine something like a red STOP sign or even pressing a big FREEZE-FRAME button. Include a relaxation breathing technique and you may find yourself on the way to reducing the heightened emotion.

You can sign up for the giveaway guide, click here which was offered on day one of the Christmas Countdown series.

Your growing understanding can be influential in helping to de-escalate your stressful feelings more quickly than before. A walk in the fresh air can pace away those stress hormones too! Even walking the dog!

In relation to another person’s behaviour, reassess before criticising, giving advice or correcting them.

If bickering begins saying something quietly like, ‘hey let’s stop it’s Christmas’ or using humour that means something good for you both might help to de-escalate a situation.  If someone privately asks for your advice about something offer it but use tact at all times.

Healthy regression:

What do you enjoy doing with Mum or Dad? With other relatives or friends? Could this be part of the day’s activities?  And if Mum, a significant other, or friend has done all the cooking how do you offer to help out in rebalancing that effort on the day?

Better still –  it’s Christmas we’re all adults let’s pre-plan.

The following information is not comprehensive but gives an outline of what some people choose to do.

Pre-planning is vital to ensure that everybody (as adults) are getting the Christmas they want.

As an adult, you may have a life of your own with a partner, best friends, or want to spend specific time with your children. Singles may want to go to events or organise some ‘me time.’ Those things you’d love to do to wind down after a busy year.

Being authentic about your own needs also means showing your love in how you’d organise some flexibility to ensure that you make contact with older relatives during the holiday season.  In person, across Skype or on the phone.

The older generation may also have activities that they would enjoy doing over the holiday. Would they like to have the flexibility to travel to different members of the family on different days? Taking a break from the old traditional parental ‘cooking and hosting’ duties. What else is going on in your local area? As an example search for ideas Click here to see what’s happening in Kew Gardens for Christmas in 2017.

Not every celebration means that everybody needs to pile back to the original family home.

Gentle and loving conversations.

Having balanced adult conversations NOW could help in accommodating what’s essential to each person and how they would like to spend their Christmas.

For example, it might lead to an agreed schedule for who needs to go where and when across the holiday season. Doing this with love could break old destructive patterns and create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.

“Create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.”

Christmas Stress dissolves

Christmas stress begins to dissolve

I wonder what the outcome could be if we let past mistakes be bygones threw in a soupçon of compassion and forgiveness on the day.  By focusing on enjoying those good things and gifts around us. Maybe the experience would turn out much better than ever before.

Practice a sense of thanksgiving. As the year is coming to an end what can we also be thankful for?

A bit of positive psychology at this time of year could be a good thing. Tomorrow making it a fun Christmas means ditching the pressure of perfection and letting go of the worry from expectation.

Just how different would Christmas be for you if you could take each moment as it comes?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

 

Lonely at Christmas

Day2 in the series on the Christmas countdown.

Abridged version– Audio duration  5.15  Reading duration 4.30 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

Today we look at Loneliness at Christmas

This is day 2 out of 6 in my Christmas Countdown series. Yesterday we took a look at ‘expectation and experience’ depending on your perspective as an extrovert or introvert.

Simple things you can do to recharge your batteries whilst dealing with the hectic side of the run-up to Christmas – and even on the day itself.

It’s amazing how simple things and taking just a little time out for yourself can boost one’s ability to get those pre-Christmas jobs done and successfully handle stressful situations.

If you’d like to catch up on yesterday’s blog, click here where you’ll also find an offer to sign up and receive a copy of my relaxation breathing guide, including how to help your mind to release the build-up of frustration.

Spoiler alert:  The sixth and final part of this series will have a free bonus list of ideas for healthier coping strategies. and I’ll be including my client guide on how to get a good night sleep, in preparation for the holiday events.

Do you wish you had people to share Christmas with?

Not everybody has a family to go to or friends to be with over the holiday season, spiking feelings of desperation and being alone, depressed and left out.

Did you know that equally some people LOVE having Christmas time to themselves?

Unplugging from the frenetic pace of your working year, or other people’s expectations that’s two benefits that the holiday could bring to you.

If like one client, you have suffered a bereavement during the year, this may be a time of reflection and quiet for you.

People celebrate this time of year in their faith or spirituality by connecting to those fundamental beliefs.

Or you may have chosen to experience long country walks as a way to chill-out while making your own decisions for the future. Choosing to have a quiet time while looking forward to celebrating with others the glitz of New Year’s Eve.

Ideas!

Which options would suit you?  – Here are several things that people do.

I don’t want to be alone!

In the UK there is the potential to become involved in the annual community projects.  Meaning you no longer need the fear of being lonely at Christmas time. Being of service to your local community can be extended to beyond the Christmas period too.

Check out your local council for details. Use the web search engine for your city by typing in ‘where to volunteer in…’ for example London, or Liverpool this Christmas.

If you need to talk to someone over the Christmas period, there is splendid work done by The Samaritans in the UK, who are usually available to phone round the clock. Is there a similar organisation in the country where you live?

Or if you fancy sharing lunch in the company of others, you could check if there will be any activities set up by your local council.  There are also alternative non-profit community organisations.

Lonely at Christmas

Volunteering around the UK

And of course, you can google or use alternative search engines to get regional variations. Or visit your local council or library to gather local information.

Click here for more information from community Christmas across the UK.

For information on The UK Samaritans service

Example of volunteering around London.

There are times when people chose to spend the main day quietly for many different reasons.

Deciding to hunker-down and get cosy?

In planning for your perfect day think about:

  • What are your favourite foods and films?
  • Who would you choose to call, or Skype?
  • What type of music would you play out loud?
  • Where’s that good book that you meant to read?
  • Maybe you’ve arranged to meet up for Christmas lunch with another person who is also spending the day on their own?
  • Or maybe you’ve been able to a ‘push the boat out’ and arranged a singles friendship holiday for over the Christmas period.
Lonely at Christmas? Not necessarily.

Cosy and fulfilled at Christmas time

 

You may feel just as fulfilled with Christmas magic if you find yourself doing some of your favourite things on your own. Just as much as if you choose to share some of your time with other people too.   

Our emotions around this period can differ from person to person, depending on our circumstances. It’s what has meaning for you that’s most important.

 

Next week my third blog will look at what most folks have an opinion on or concern for over the Christmas period. How do you deal with DIFFICULT PEOPLE?

Sometimes we feel we can’t escape such people over the holiday period. Our emotions may be tied to a sense of duty or guilt or in circumstances that are beyond our control.

It’s no fun to feel bored silly, or if you expect the day to end up in arguments and recriminations.

So, is it possible to control difficult people, even when that problematic person is our self!  What’s the reason for this and how can we break that pattern?

And in my fourth blog, we look at how to combat the build-up of stress from rushing around. Trying to fit everything in. While that little voice in your head is screaming “I’m tired and overwhelmed.”

Or “what if everything goes wrong, it will be my fault.”

Taking some simple actions and making an effort with your mindset could produce a significant difference to your enjoyment.

Until next week… thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Nature has programmed all of us with physical and emotional needs. How stressed we feel can depend on how well our emotional needs are being met.

Listening to our emotional needs and ensuring we have them in balance is one of the most important things for good mental health.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and would like guidance in believing in yourself and moving towards what you want then I may be able to help you.

Click on my image to be directed to my email contact details.

Christmas Countdown

OMG, we’re into the Christmas countdown?

Abridged Audio duration 02.59  Reading duration 04.00 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind.

Keep calm on the Christmas countdownWe all find ways to handle the festive season. These can range from organising heightened excitement and frivolities, like good times sharing with family or friends. Maybe there is the compulsory work do (‘party-on’) and in some cases don’ts!  Whatever you have planned this year, and where ever you are placing your attention, one commonality is the amount of stress that can build up in the rush or the financial worry.

 

Every Monday and Tuesday over the next three weeks, I’m going to add some Christmas de-stress tips one or two of which may just be right in helping you to keep the levels of stress down around the holiday season.  Alternatively, these tips could get you thinking of ways that would work better for you, so it’s a win/win!

We’ll be taking a snapshot of:

  1. Expectation and experience
  2. Loneliness (put in Christmas community initiatives)
  3. Dealing with difficult people like relatives or friends
  4. Making it Fun
  5. Overindulgence
  6. What happens if you splash the cash?

What are your seasonal stress triggers?

Expectations and experience: 

Christmas countdown

Extroverts delight party Christmas

For those of us who are extroverts, the Christmas experience as a big social event may be just the fuel that powers your enjoyment.  Fantastic, get ‘stuck-in’!

That’s not me! 

Psychology Today reviewed the research from Myers Briggs studies in the USA which determined that approximately 16 to 50 percent of the population had characteristics of an introvert.

The complete opposite of the extrovert nature means that rather than being energised by partying they’d prefer to have a nice meal in the quiet of their home.

Does this sound like you?

Then you need to find a simple way to recharge your energies through the day which will help you to cope better and let go of the fears that used to undermine your Christmas experience.

Ideas!

Christmas CountdownConsider planning some time whereby you can give attention to your own needs and feelings.

In the days before Christmas, where would it be possible to create a little time for yourself and by yourself?

5 to 10 minutes of private meditation, or relaxation breathing, sign up and click here if you would like a guide for one of the best ways to do this and let go of anxiety or frustration.

Listing to a favourite tune or nipping out for a short walk around the block or through the park.

You may find a mindful moment when taking a stroll and taking in the view of the daytime winter sky.  Or if you prefer the twinkle of the stars at night.

In Tomorrow’s blog, we’ll take a snapshot of what some people fear the most about Christmas ‘Loneliness’.

And create some choices that you could make to break that limiting spell.

While at the opposite end there are people who feel guilty because they WANT to be alone. We discover what’s right about that?

Christmas countdown

Contact for Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

Last call for stoptober quit smoking

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The End of The Year Is Nigh!!!

Stoptober quit-smoking

Stoptober a washout? Shake off this ‘naughty trickster’ and stop smoking.

As ‘Stoptober’ comes to an end, there is just a couple of months to go before CHRISTMAS and as quick as you can say ‘mistletoe,’ we break through into a NEW YEAR.

It can be effortless, or more challenging to stop smoking. Depending on what triggers have brought you back to the nicotine addiction in the past. However, it is also possible to put those triggers in the past where they belong and become future-proof free. With Christmas coming up you may find it helpful to have some extra tools for remaining a non-smoker up your sleeve too.

Tried hypnosis?

Hypnosis is known to be a natural and complementary alternative to stopping smoking because it works on the mind.

The Simmons Method?

What people learn using this method, alongside the elements of Cognitive Hypnotherapy deepens your understanding, breaking triggers and associations, giving you tools to help to banish cravings.

We’re looking at how we can retrain your brain to stay free of the smoking, while you get on with living your life and your body thanks you for how it performs because of how you respond.

Imagine being a non-smoker, or you may prefer to call yourself someone who used to smoke and no longer does.  Even if someone else is smoking around you, you’re not bothered because you’ve become indifferent to it.  That means you care less about that old smoke. Instead, you’re making choices towards more healthier options whatever they may be that’s personal to you.

Imagine preferring instead clean fresh air and healthier behaviours in resolving stressful situations.

Interested in learning more?

stoptober quit-smoking

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Drop me a line to set up a free no obligation telephone conversation.

Others have, and now they are more active because of improvements to their health.

And if finance is crucial to you then note that being smoke-free can have you laughing all the way to the bank! Given one client’s smoking habit she saved over £4000 year through breaking up with tobacco and who I call the nicotine trickster!

Get serious – get free…

Increase your chances for better health and longevity… and if it floats your boat then don’t forget your prosperity in the cash you’ll save… Ka-Ching!!!

You may find the following link interesting (click below to view):

Tobacco & Nicotine – Be prepared for a big surprise when you quit smoking.

 

How sleep deprived are you?

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This blog is aimed at those of you who put off going to bed to sleep! Before you know it, 1 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning when you turn off ‘that work laptop or TV screen’ and stagger to your bedroom.

When do you decide to sleep?

sleepdeprived

Go to bed

Maybe you’ve fallen asleep on the couch and have to drag your body off to your bedroom.

Fancy getting a decent night’s sleep?

How about making improvements to your sleep routine, so that the prospect of having pure deep refreshing sleep becomes more of reality?

Start your Q.U.E.S.T. for something much better

Question: What are you doing now which means you’re not getting to bed at a reasonable time?

  • Imagine what it would mean to your body, to your mind if you have a longer period of deep, uninterrupted sleep-time. What you would be feeling like in the morning?

“What would you be doing, what could you be doing,  with more energy taking you through the day?”  *

Unstick:  What is it that stops you going to bed?

  • Have you heard of ‘procrastination’ it means putting off something which we want to do, because it takes some effort? Going to bed usually has a routine. A set of habits that can take a bit of effort.

Imagine Joe has been watching the late night football highlights on TV. He’s tranced-out and sleepy as the TV shows merge into the next program. He wants to go to bed but hears himself snoring as the beer bottle falls to his side.

“So, what would he need to be doing in order to get his head to hit that pillow at a reasonable time? What time must he kick off that bedroom routine?”

Now, ask yourself the same question when it comes to your bedtime routine.

  • Some people get distracted by a TV channel, internet surfing, checking emails or social media.
  • Worst still is taking work home, and not giving your brain the creative time to consolidate the learning from the day.
  • Leaving the mobile phone on means that just like that phone, your brain is being asked to stay constantly on alert.

“So where and how do you set your boundaries?”

Encourage:  Try an experiment for one week and see what happens if you take up the challenge for BETTER SLEEP.

  • Maybe you could buddy up with your partner or a friend – because sometimes working as a team can be more encouraging than doing things on our own.

Significant:   Rather than being seduced by what you think you should do to not miss out, think

“What have I got to win, by sticking to boundaries and a good bedtime routine?”

The benefits of a good night’s sleep for you:

Sleepdeprived

How good is sleep for you?

The duration of your sleep, and getting the adequate cycles of sleep for your needs is key to your immune efficiency, bringing benefits to your heart, clarity of your mind, and potential longevity to your life force.

Improved memory:

  • During REM (rapid eye movement) memories or new skills, you learned during the day are strengthened and consolidated.

Restrict inflammation and lowering stress:

  • Research  * suggests that people surviving on less sleep, have increased blood levels of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.
  • Deep sleep allows a time for the body and mind to shut down so that biologically our energy is restored and our immune system is turned on to combat illnesses.
  • Healthy sleep patterns mean a lowering of stress levels, which has a positive effect on cardiovascular health, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Get more creative:

  • Sleeping well strengthens one’s creative ability to.
  • The brain consolidates memories during the period of REM sleep. They are restructured and organised in such a way, that researchers believe, may result in a strengthening of one’s creative ability.
  • So, from experience, when you’ve had a good night’s rest, you have a clearer mind for the next day.

Less likely accidents

  • Having to make quick decisions and speedier reaction times are much more likely when we aren’t sleep deprived.
  • Driving on insufficient sleep can be as risky as drink-driving.

Building on levels of quality sleep:

  • As people start to take care of themselves, in their emotional and physical needs, then low mood and depression also decrease. This helps to build on the quality level of sleep too.

Tenacity:

Sleepdeprived

Habits for refreshing rest

Being tenacious means you’ve already been clinging on to distracting habits that have stopped you going to bed. So, you already have ‘tenacity’ as a resource.  Imagine using that feeling of tenacity by replacing an old habit with one that gets you to bed earlier.  Go on you can do this!   Ah…We all have to start somewhere; one small action leads to…

Gradually breaking the pattern of old habits and replacing them with new,  and you could see improvements towards better bedtime routines and refreshing sleep.

 

Tips for refreshing sleep

  1. Kick out the TV and work-related stuff from your bedroom. Stop checking emails or accessing the internet a couple of hours before bedtime.
  2. View your bedroom as your sleep chamber, and place for intimacy only.
  3. Gentle stretching before bed can be quite relaxing and it’s beneficial to stop heavy exercise at least 3 hours before retiring.
  4. A change in the body’s core temperature can lead to feeling sleepy. That’s why having a warm bath an hour before bed can lead to drifting off to sleep more quickly.
  5. Beware of alcohol in excess or too close to bedtime.
  • Contrary to belief the body’s cycle for processing alcohol can lead to us waking up throughout the night and interrupts the deep restorative sleep that we all need for our health and well-being.”

  1. If you’re in bed and can’t sleep for 30 minutes; get out of the bedroom and do something incredibly tedious. For example, reading something that’s not excitable. I once chose the water boiler manual!  Do not pick anything else to do that could be perceived as a reward.
  2. Our bodies have a mechanism that adjusts our sleepiness to the hours of darkness.  You may benefit from a darkened bedroom at night, which is cool in temperature.
  3. Learn to meditate. – I do and I love it! Good meditation engages our nervous system by reducing stress levels and allowing deep rest for health and well-being.

Is your sleep issue due to chronic stress?

  • Generalized anxieties, work anxiety, panic attacks, moodiness, and depression, can all lead to the impairment of sleep.
  • If you are suffering from constant and chronic insomnia it may be time to seek professional therapeutic help.
  • Get yourself checked out by your GP to ensure there is no physical reason for your condition.

All being well you may like to make contact and we can work together towards getting you a good night’s sleep. Or you may like to purchase a personalized recording to help you sleep.

Email me to set something up, either at the office or across Skype or Zoom web meetings.

Are you a shift worker?

Here’s some information and guidelines for you, alongside the 1-2-3 experiment to help you overcome the biological jet lag of changing rotas.  Click here for my shift worker blog…

Sleepdeprevation

Contact me

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  • * Research link above – US National Library of Medicine – NCBI – research on controlled studies
  • Www.health.com:  The benefits of a good night’s sleep: Research pointers from NYU school of medicine, Boston University, Stanford University.

NB:  Inflammatory proteins have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging.

Good sleep habits potentially have a positive effect on prevention.

REM :  * Rapid eye movement during sleep allows the brain to process information over the day, and consolidate what we have learned.

Whereas stage 4 in the sleep cycle allows for the calming slow delta brain waves which aid deep rest and healing.

 

 

Post Traumatic Stress: PTSD-help to recover

Also known as PTSD – just how common is it? 

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Post traumatic stress PTSD

Recovering from PTSD

Can hypnotherapy help you overcome post-traumatic stress: PTSD?

We’ll look at some facts and symptoms of PTSD, How you can help someone you know who is suffering from this debilitating issue.

We include a look at everyday stress and ask if this can result in PTSD type symptoms.

You may be wondering what are the available treatments.

And how hypnotherapy could be a good option.

What’s the best thing to do next?

Some Post Traumatic Stress facts 

According to *patient UK, 3 in 100 people may develop PTSD in their life time, with 2 out of 3 people getting better without treatment.  It’s not unusual for recovery to take several months after the initial incident.

1 out of 3 people experience PTSD symptoms for much longer, and with treatment, they go on to recover and lead a much more fulfilling life.  The response to treatment will differ from person to person.

Post-traumatic stress is very often attributed to events such as being mugged or attacked, experiencing a natural catastrophe or watching a terrible incident.

Not everyone is affected in the same way.

For example, let’s say two people from the emergency services attended the same distressing incident. One of them may end their shift, pick up the family shopping on their way home, and get on with their life. The other may have found the experience so traumatic, that they require time off work and counselling.

Most people differ when it comes to their threshold level of trauma.

When is the right time to seek more intensive therapy?

The UK National Institute for clinical excellence * (NICE) recommends that

“non-trauma-focused interventions such as relaxation do not address traumatic memories, should not routinely be offered to people who present with PTSD symptoms within three months of a traumatic event.”

Patient UK advice’s that

“if your symptoms are prolonged and moderate or severe, (PTSD) treatment can help you to adjust. If you have severe symptoms 2-4 weeks after the incident, you are likely to need treatment.” 

The importance of empathy for suffers from PTSD 

Being told to pull yourself together is not helpful and pretty counter-productive. Understanding even a little about what’s going on in the brain which causes PTSD may be useful, as you work towards getting better

How a friend or family can help someone suffering from PTSD

  1. Are they showing unusual signs of irritability or flashes of anger?
  2. Listen to the person without interrupting as they relate their experience
  3. What to do if their symptoms continue beyond a month:
  4. If things are getting worse, you could try to encourage them to seek further professional help.

What is the emotional arousal doing?

Post traumatic stress PTSD

The natural survival instinct

Whether you’re directly involved or a bystander, witnessing a traumatic event can have a significant effect on the body’s reactions.

The emotional part of the brain (amygdala) alerts the nervous system which produces copious amounts of adrenaline, in preparation for the fight, flight or freeze response.

As the flow of blood is diverted from other areas of the body, its fuels the muscles to quickly react. You may experience an increase in heartbeat, sweating, tummy upset, dry mouth, and trembling

At the peak of a negative experience, the brain takes a snapshot of your emotions and everything in your environment.  It uses this information to protect you from any perceived danger in the future.

This raw information gets stored in the brain’s amygdala. Unfortunately, that can mean a miscalculation of risk when everything is safe.

*  What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Memories of traumatic occurrences can severely affect people, and specifically those serving in army battle-conditions. These include:

  • ‘flashbacks’ to incidents which can have a significant impact on family life or ability to hold down a job.
  • ‘Flashbacks’ –  of the event can trigger feelings of anxiety and fear.
  • Persistent, recurring thoughts – of the distressing event.
  • Being on high alert – or hyper-arousal means you may experience feelings of anger and irritability – insomnia, nightmares, poor concentration and being easily startled.
  • Avoidance –  staying away from people or places, events or objects that are reminders of the experience.
  • Change in outlook – individuals who have PTSD may only be able to envision a bleak future. They might have less interest in activities they used to enjoy, feel emotionally numb or detached from others.

Can everyday stress develop into PTSD symptoms?

Stress is a common experience for most people.

  • Good Stress, for example, is those feeling which pushes us by energising a creative drive.
  • Survival stress, for instance, can happen when someone faces a real tangible danger. It helps to protect us by giving us the ability to escape or save lives.
  • Modern stress could mean dealing with issues at work, in social relationships, limiting self-beliefs, public speaking, or self-expectations. Some people find specific experiences far more stressful than others.
  • Chronic Inescapable Stress is where the problem that causes stress cannot be resolved by the person quickly. The problem seems never-ending and therefore persists on a daily basis. There is a feeling of no control.

Traumatic Stress can be indicated when the symptoms are apparent in your daily life.

Visiting your General Practitioner

Medical professionals can prescribe medication. They often do this, as the first line of treatment, for anxiety attacks and depression.

The sufferer may feel more able to cope.

For a person to achieve long-term success, the underlying thoughts and triggers need to be resolved.

Choice of therapies can range from Eye Movement Integration (EMI, IEMT, EMDR), or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Other forms of talking therapies may also be advised, for example, counselling.

Hypnotherapy

Not all hypnotherapists work the same.  It’s advisable to have an initial conversation with the therapist, to find out how they work, and what they can offer you.

If it isn’t possible to come to terms with the initial traumatic event, it is possible to remove or ignore the triggers which increase the risk for ‘flashbacks’.

The aim of hypnosis will be to focus on removing the panic and anxious feelings, related to the original event; thus, helping the client to change the inappropriate responses

Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapists (QCH)

The approach used by Cognitive Hypnotherapists is evidence based. Drawing upon modern discoveries within hypnotic language, Cognitive theory, NLP, Evolutionary Psychology and Positive Psychology.

As a practitioner, I have trained in the area of Eye Movement Desensitisation (EMI, IEMT) and the REWIND technique.

The approach used by QCH trained hypnotherapists is unique.

If you have a problem with Stress, anxiety or PTSD and would like help to resolve your issue, you may like to think of hypnotherapy as a possible option.

I hope this article helps, even in a small way, to get out there an understanding of this condition. And for anybody suffering from associated symptoms to know that they should not feel shame or guilt because it’s not their fault and they are not alone.

Post traumatic stress PTSD

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

If you’re curious about how Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help you contact me directly for an initial no obligation phone conversation.

Reference Sources:

UK Online Patient.info

UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy and therapy finder for your area.

Happy List releases stress

Your Emotional Needs

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Acts of Kindness

The Happy List

 

The Happy List represents celebrating those who give kindness and compassion to change the lives of others in their communities, and it just reminds me of how great humanity can be.

During this challenging year in the UK and across the globe, it’s good to be reminded about all the acts of selflessness through kindness that humans are capable of too. So, it was with some joy that I settled down to view The Independents happy list of 50 of the top unsung heroes in the UK, chosen by the public *

Now, we know that great acts of kindness can literally change people’s lives, but have you ever thought about how even one smaller act can help you or another feel happier during your day? Acts don’t have to be large to make a difference to another, or to give you a lovely feeling.

Hers’s a quick pick from the happy list, where so many different types of people are helping their communities. And there in no particular order(!)

KAPOW!

* Sourced from on-line Independent Newspaper UK.

Happy List 44.

Doing great work in my home city, Michelle set up a self-funded group to empower disadvantaged, and the disabled, with sport, education, employable skills and personal development.

MPower*, has become a major Liverpool city project

“Every day we work with our clients and they leave happy and smiling” Quote Live BBC Breakfast News  25th June 2017

Happy List  48

Cliff, the friendly postman in South London who cheers up his community by taking time out to chat and really get to know his customers, and whose positive outlook is infectious on the community spirit. They say… “he’s one in a million” 

Happy List 23

At 95 Brian organises a volunteer’s initiative called ‘strictly tea dance’ to help address social isolation for older people.

Happy List 33

Whilst, the much younger Oliver used his IT skills and created an app to help groups of younger people meet to eat and chat and combat loneliness in London.

Happy List 49

How about things you’d usually pass by in the street.  Well, Steve decided to get creative with pot holes in the road, to cheer people up.

Steve creates mini garden potholes in many cities in the UK which just makes passers-by smile!  The “Holes of Happiness” project!”

Happy List 11

Josh goes around his city giving free haircuts to homeless people. Encouraging self-dignity to grow. “#Do something for Nothing”, he aims is to help make the invisible feel visible, and it’s a growing global network.

What’s the reward?

Happy list - work in a team & feel great

Kitchen Staff In Homeless Shelter

All these people who give so much, also receive something very powerful and well-deserved in return.

I can’t generalise on what it means to each of them, as they may not be looking for a reward, and they will all have their own unique reasons… However,

 

Human Givens – a personal happy list to explore

I’m reminded of something called the ‘human givens,’ which is a list of human needs that, when given attention to, can help us feel that we are experiencing a more fulfilling life.

Sounds like an interesting way to create our own happy list! Be that a sense of meaning and purpose, or belonging to something greater than our self, and therefore life can feel enriched.

A few of  the human givens are:

The need for community and making a contribution

This means that we’re sustaining a need that gives us a reason for being, which is much more than just our own personal needs.

Interesting to note that doing this also increases the health of the givers immune system as well as their mental health. Which boosts a general feeling of happiness.

So, some people find happiness in volunteering in a community project, using their DIY skills, or give professional advice for free, or challenging local issues.

Whatever it would be which contributes towards the people, animals or other things in your local community which helps to make it more of a loving place.

How does the receiver gain?

Here are a few of the human givens which I associated with what I imagine to be the outcome of receiving the acts of kindness as mentioned on the happy list above.

The need to give and receive attention

Social isolation can have a detrimental effect on mental health and emotional well-being. Leading to poor behaviour and potential personal neglect.

Most people need some form of regular contact and quality time with other people. A bit of fun, and mental stimulation does wonders in keeping us physically active and emotionally secure.

The need for safety and protection

If our environment feels insecure or dangerous, then mental health will suffer.

This also applies to our basic needs being met around, financial security, job prospects, as well as physical safety.

When these needs are met through opportunities, which enable people to feel more in control, they can start to move forward again, even if it’s at a steady pace. Simply put this can be quite liberating to self-confidence.

The need for challenge and creativity

happy list learn to juggle?

Leaning into a challenge

 

This can range from simple things like enjoying hobbies, to becoming more proficient through a training scheme. Or just to have a go at something new,

Learning something new, discovering ways to develop an idea, or growing our potential means different things to different people.

It’s what gets the juices going without causing negative stress, and it’s a way of turning stress on its head.  Up-stress is a positive feeling which makes you want to spring out of bed in the morning.

 

A feeling of progression, and growing belief in yourself has a way of  lifting your self-esteem and self-worth.

Why?

Because it brings with it  a feeling or sense that we have meaning and purpose to our existence.

‘It’s like Exploration with a sense of Curiosity.’ Maria

By stretching our boundaries just a little bit at a time, it means we can find out if something is the right fit for us.  So, there is no pressure in a negative way because we can let go of unrealistic expectation!

The need for intimacy

This is not necessarily a romantic ‘intimacy’ – although that can be nice at increasing those good endorphin hormones too!

This is just about having that one person, close family, close group of friends, or favoured pet with whom we can share time.

That includes our sensible or off the wall ideas, our doubts to encourage support, our hopes and our dreams for a future that is fulfilling.

And also, just to squeeze in spending time with and for ourselves, otherwise known as ‘me-time’ is really important too, in our need for privacy.

Your own happy list?

Get happy list take action

Create your happy list

Is it time to start making improvements in your own emotional needs? If like me, you want to cherish the good feelings that your own personal happy list could bring.

Whilst we’re at it, what could we be doing, no matter how small, to help make someone else’s day that bit sweeter too. You never know they may just ‘pay that kind act forward’

  1. Time to get out that pen and paper or voice record those ideas straight into your phone app.
  2. How would you schedule in one small incremental action a day, which will continue to encourage you to GO FOR IT!
  3. When you build on those actions daily they embed like a really good habit, so that each day you’ll find you’re getting closer to fulfilling your happy list, and your emotional needs.

Wishing you and yours a fulfilling journey ahead.

And of course, should you wish to explore more about your values, your strengths and what would give you more meaning in your life you can always try out some coaching.

Contact me link

This Blog’s Sources:

If you’d like to see the full list follow the external link to the happy list as produced by The Independent Newspapers.

“In these anxious, unsettled times, let’s celebrate those who do their bit to help make a better Britain.”  Quote Independent 2017

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-independents-happy-list-2017-a7797851.html#gallery

Michelle Smith MPower people in Liverpool   http://www.mpowerpeople.co.uk/services/

Josh Coombes  #DoSomethingForNothing

The Human Givens Institute