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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(!)


* 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.


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

Michelle Smith MPower people in Liverpool

Josh Coombes  #DoSomethingForNothing

The Human Givens Institute


Shift worker and sleep

…functioning at your best

I used to be a shift worker, so understand all to well how difficult it can be to switch our biological clocks from a daytime to night time working mode. If you work shifts you’ll understand that dreaded feeling of ‘jet-lag’ as the body goes through re-adjustments.

In a previous blog I wrote about the symptoms that create the I can’t sleep’ * syndrome if we experience insomnia.   I also introduced readers to the potential of hypnosis and learned tactics that could help them with this issue.

What advice is there out there for shift workers?

Getting the Zzzz's before your night shift?

Shift worker exhaustion

There are of millions of people working night shifts.

If you are a shift worker, we rely so much on you to keep our world turning 24/7.

Those of you who run our emergency hospital care, provide police protection;  look after people in residential care.

There are  air traffic controllers, electrical grid maintenance, even in entertaining us via television transmission.


As a shift worker, you could be experiencing sleeping issues

Studies show that shift workers  may suffer:

  • A lack in the quality of sleep
  • Have shorter sleep
  • Have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

One of the reasons is due to the natural circadian rhythm which our bodies follow.

This cycle causes changes in our body temperature, which raises during daylight to promote wakefulness, and drops as the sun goes down, influencing a release of melanin which promotes sleepiness.

So, a shift worker faces the task of working when the body was designed to be in sleeping mode. This means that they may be subjected to drowsiness during their shift which increases potential errors in performance.

What’s the solution?

If your pattern is continually changing and rotating, there’s may  not be a universal magic solution, It’s really down to what works better for you.  Very often people are juggling between working different hours and any other responsibilities they may have at home.

The tips below are just suggestions you may like to try out.

Guidelines you may find helpful:

  1. If you are able to attain the same sleep/waking schedule on your days off then the body is getting a consistent rising time, combine that with regular periods of exercise and social activity then the body temperature rhythm will be synchronised.
  2. Working a shift pattern rotation will be easier if the schedule goes from day shift to evening and then night rather than in the reverse order.
  3. If moving to a new pattern for example an evening to a night you could begin to adjust your bedtime and wake-up times a few days in advance.

* (more information on experimenting on ” what’s best for you” a little later in this blog)

  1. Using bright light boxes, at the start of the ‘day’, can help the body’s internal clock to adjust and make the user more alert on the job and improve job performance.
  2.  Avoid any exposure to bright lights a few hours before you are due to go to bed.
  3. Limit the amount of caffeine on a night shift to just one cup at the beginning, any later and you will impede your ability to fall asleep when you get home.

* Alcohol also disrupts your deep sleep cycle because as it metabolises in your body it will disrupt the cycle of deep sleep, the result being that you feel less than refreshed for your next shift.

  1. At the end of your night shift if it’s daylight outside ensure that you wear dark glasses which helps prevent the sunlight’s effect on increasing your body temperature and alertness.
  2. Drowsiness can occur when driving home after a night shift, this is a potential life hazard, so why risk it?  Instead arrange alternative transport.
  3. Wind down after work, by giving yourself at least one hour before you go to bed to sleep.
  4. Limiting other disruptions to your sleep time.  Turn off the phone and door bell. Get your family or partner on board, fielding any calls or limiting any noises. Explain the importance of your sleep needs to the kids, getting their understanding may help them to help you.
  5. Darken your bedroom with heavy curtains, or a roll-down blackout blind or use an eye mask. Use ear-plugs to limit extraneous noises.            


1. Waking up – taking time to exercise (walking and experiencing the sunshine) other physical activity (the housework, the gardening) whatever energises you gets you ready for a working day.

(*more resources and ideas to experiment with  ” what’s best for you”  coming up!)

Shift work and Insomnia!

Shift working tends to be hardest on insomniacs, who have a sensitive sleep system to begin with, and older people whose body-temperature rhythms have a harder time adjusting than those of younger people.
As a shift worker practising some or all of the tips above may be just what you need to help give you the improvements that you are seeking.

Shift worker solve insomnia

Contact Maria Richards

If however you find that you require more help with your ability to get to sleep or enjoy quality sleep then you could try the 1-2-3 experiment below this article.

Or combine the 1-2-3, with getting in contact for support, and the creation of your very own hypnosis to aid sleep MP3 recording. Working either at my office or across Skype or Zoom as an on-line meeting alternative.

Working together we’d look at helping you overcome your  insomnia. Especially if they are caused by stress and worries from your day.

1, 2, 3 – Experiments you can do PLUS Links to resources in this article…

1.    * Body clocks – light therapy with many clocks at different price ranges
Wake up lights – with accompanying sounds like dawn chorus or seas waves.  The choice is yours – certainly I’ve found these clocks much more preferable to waking up to clanging alarms, or mobile phone reminders and enjoyed the light effect too.

“Interestingly the blue light spectrum is one of the reasons why it’s advisable not to use your laptop or mobile phone in bed before sleep – the blue light spectrum elevates the hormones stimulating wakefulness!”

2. Experiment on what’s best for you:

*  What works best for you could depend on how long your shift is – start time and end time.”

Keeping in mind that altering your sleep pattern a few days in advance is not always easy if you have other personal commitments – then it could be that you need to experiment a little on what works best for you.  A couple of questions to ask yourself would be:

  • Would you find it easier to delay sleep when you first start working shifts, rather than forcing earlier sleep?
  • Would it be better for you to catch some sleep a little later in the day and get up an hour or two before the start of your first night shift?

By experimenting with this in order to fit in your life priorities and following some or all of the 10+1 guidelines above you could find your unique key to improving how you feel as a shift-worker.
* BUPA pages include more on Healthy habits around diet , the household and planning your day as a shift worker.

3. The 3 day warning technique

An example of how to make a physical change to push your sleep in line with your new shift pattern and your body into sync when going from evening to night work. If you are able to structure your days then this idea could be for you,

Usual shift

  • 5:00pm to 1:00am.
  • Bedtime – 3am to 11am
  • Shift begins 5:00pm

If after the pattern finishes you are on a 3-day break, followed by:

New shift pattern starting at 11pm to 7:00am
3 days before start of new shift push your bedtime to a couple of hours later:

  • Day 1 – Bedtime           5am to 1:00pm
  • Day 2 – Bedtime           7am to 3:00pm
  • Day 3- Bedtime            8am to 4:00pm
  • Start the new shift     11pm to 7:00am
  • Day 4-Bedtime  9am to 5:00pm  and on every day after during that new shift cycle.

*Source: Best Heath Magazine report on altering your sleep pattern over a few days before a shift-change at work


Can’t sleep? Hypnotherapy helps…

Exhaustion cause of lack of sleep

Help I can’t sleep!

‘I can’t sleep’ may be one of the frustrating mantra’s you find yourself saying as you lay awake staring at the ceiling on most nights.

I’ve seen many people that struggle with sleep for many different reasons, especially when we are also subject to the hectic pace of town or city living.

We all need sleep to function adequately, and most of us need 6-8 hours every night.

If we lose one single night of sleep, we can generally recover within a few days, but long-term reduced rest is just not so easy to conquer.

Sleeping disorders affects the sleep of millions all over the world.

The worst thing about this condition is that there may be no distinct reason for sleep loss.

If your bed feels nice and the environment is quiet, you’re snug, and you don’t actually feel anxious, why is it that you find yourself saying ‘not again,  I can’t sleep.’

There are as a rule straightforward reasons for insomnia, and that’s around something also known as general sleep hygiene and habits.

What if my issue with Insomnia is becoming prolonged?  – the stress factor.

Symptoms of insomnia  can be:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping at all,
  • waking up early in the morning
  • waking up during the night time
  • disturbed or stressed sleep
  • finding daily function difficult because of tiredness
  • mood swings and low concentration through the day

For a lot of people daily tension, stress and anxiety are the reasons why their sleep is affected, and the consequences manifest themselves both consciously and unconsciously: this means we are dealing with two levels of mind every time we try to go to sleep.

On a conscious level, the majority of us will have experienced the issue of a busy mind in bed, when you just cannot turn off and all of the day’s thoughts and stresses spin around ceaselessly. Lots of people end up drifting off to sleep through mental exhaustion.

While other people encounter panic attacks in the night without identifying what is happening to them and which is actually the result of absorbing their worries through the day which then affects them on an unconscious level.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help people to finally get some enjoyable sleep.

Becoming aware of this problem is good but not always helpful if we don’t understand what we could be doing about it.

The last thing we want is to find we’ve become anxious about going to bed.

“With a minimal idea about how to control these symptoms, we can be left feeling weary and sometimes distressed .”

Ah...finally a good night's sleep

Ah…finally a good night’s sleep.

 So let’s find what the ‘I can’t sleep’ is about

By deciding to do something more constructive about this problem, you and I would be looking at the underlying issues causing your condition.

You’ll learn how to make improvements in your environment and for yourself, giving you the solution to take back control of your sleeping pattern.

This can enable a feeling of hope because with more understanding and learned tactics you’ll be sending a message to your unconscious mind to aid you.

So the ‘I can’t sleep’ doesn’t even have time to filter through to your conscious thinking anymore.

Our one to one sessions will include hypnosis on an MP3 recording at night. Before you know it you’ve made a  valuable change that can positively impact many aspects of your life.
If you are concerned about your insomnia here’s an opportunity to do something about it – imagine a time in the not too distant future when you could be going to bed and ‘sleeping ‘ successfully.

By obtaining the core cycle of deep sleep that the body needs you’ll be more able to wake to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

To set up an initial phone chat, where we can explore how Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you, make contact here:  

LEARN MORE about sleep issues:

If there is no apparent reason for your sleep disorder, I always advise people to see their GP first. All being well we can work together on bringing about improvements to help you move towards better quality sleep.

Audio Blogs – hear me speak about sleep in the following articles:

click here if you’re a shift worker – this blog has many tips and experiments.

click here if you, if you’re sleeping deprivation, is due to late night habits

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Contact me

Are e-cigarettes an alternative to smoking

…the debate goes on about the role of e-cigarettes as an alternative to stop smoking?


I want to stop smoking and kick the nicotine habit

As ministers in Wales decide to respond to concerns over e-cigarette devices they are proposing to restrict their use in enclosed public places. They believe it could normalise smoking by making it appear to be acceptable to smoke e-cigarettes indoors, creating an invitation to smoke to young people (at the time of writing there is no age limitation on purchase and there are no advertising restrictions), and research is limited on the health impact on the user and on the secondary health impact for people inhaling the nicotine vapour. Although some people are using them as effective aids to stop smoking, what they are not doing is stopping the addiction to nicotine.

E-cigs are not regulated like patches or gum, so unlike medicines there are no rules about the purity of the nicotine in the device. However there is also no present evidence that they contain the many poisonousness elements found in tar (in tobacco) including carbon monoxide.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson of the British Medical Association confirmed to the BBC that “we don’t know if e-cigarettes are safe…it’s going to take some time before we do because we need to see them in use and to study very carefully what the effects of e-cigs are” Dr Nathanson believes that taking these devices off the shelves or heavily regulating them would be a better option until we know that the contents of each was fixed. In the UK the MHRA* are presently looking into the possibility of more stringent regulation e.g. looking at the purity and the quality of the product.

E-cigarettes –  What others are saying and doing?

With this advice in mind my search for answers took me across the globe to a report in the Jerusalem post, where after four months’ preparation a draft document to prohibit the sale of both e-cigarettes and the chemicals that fill them, has been issued for the perusal of the public.

Here a bill to include e-cigs in existing prohibitions for smoking tobacco has been tabled in the Knesset.  Some of their reasons for bringing this to public attention are:

  • Nicotine is a chemical/ psychoactive stimulant, addictive and acts in the body by releasing adrenaline and dopamine
  • Nicotine is used as an agricultural insecticide
  • These chemicals and others in e-cigs are not uniform or standardized among products
  • Leaks from cartridges have been reported, exposing others to a serious toxic risk in the air and by being swallowed, including by children.

In Israel the ministry document calls for the prohibition of the manufacture, storage or marketing of e-cigs and their products.   However due to the decline and prohibition on smoking tobacco in public it’s also recognised that the tobacco companies have a vested interest in the sale of e-cig products given the demand for them.

As a result of e-cig dangers, the US Food and Drug Administration has barred the sale of e-cigs, while the World Health Organization has advised countries to warn its residents of exposure to e-cigs, whose claims of reducing tobacco smoking “have not been proven.”

So how do I stop smoking and break the nicotine habit?

If you want to be smoke-free and break the nicotine habit you may have already tried all other routes to stopping, gum, patches, e-cigarettes, but even if you  haven’t here’s an even better alternative.

Hypnotherapy is a natural, gentle and complementary alternative and with Cognitive Hypnotherapy you will learn techniques that can help you through banishing cravings, help you sustain being free from smoking and begin to understand much more about why this addiction is ‘not your fault’ .

It’s not your willpower that’s the issue here it’s a cruel trick caused by nicotine itself –  so help yourself by giving yourself the opportunity to retrain your brain so that smoking stays in the past where it belongs and that means quitting smoking with the chemical fallout from the toxins in tar and binning that addictive nicotine habit (in all its forms) for good.

For  more information on my smoking cessation treatment programme, you can check out my specialist page by clicking on this link stop smoking today or make contact and arrange to come over to my East London practice and where I’ll help you to make smoking a thing of the past.

*Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

In a later blog I talk about the Simmons Method of smoking cessation to help people get free from the smoking

Piling on the pounds? How can I stop it!

… ever notice those portions getting bigger and bigger?

Fast food

Cut down on junk food

Over the years the extra portions, the additional piece of cake, or the craving for sweet or savoury carbohydrates can become hard wired into our behavioural patterns forcing us into piling on the pounds as many of us to seek ways to achieve a desired weight-loss goal.

A while ago there was a great documentary on BBC2 called ‘The Men Who Make Us Fat’. 

Observing many issues around our eating habits, the program looked at the concept of ‘supersizing’, where over 40 years ago an American cinema manager introduced big bucket popcorn, which ignited the fuse for change in how we increased the volumes of what we eat. It was discovered to be a great marketing strategy in selling bigger single portions to people at fast food restaurants. The psychological factor being that it’s OK to purchase a large size but not to ask for two individual portions. Of course the ‘value for money’ tag encouraged people to eat and drink even larger volumes until it just became the ‘norm’ – grande or venti anybody? Extend that into supermarkets, where super size and value packaging especially around high-fat, sugary foods and drinks are concerned, and we can see the beginnings of the obesity problem and decline in health for adults and children. 

In fact when it came to assessing how much an individual’s body weight departs from what is perceived as ‘normal and desirable’, an American insurance company reclassified the body mass index (BMI), in the post-war era. Keeping in mind that the BMI was ‘originally meant to be a simple way of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals, or rather, populations, with an average body composition, many people, including physicians, came to rely on the numbers as an authority for a medical diagnosis!’ (Wikipedia)

With all this pressure the diet industry was born, fuelled by a demand for help with weight management, with people relying on measurements from stepping onto home-weighing scales. It wasn’t long before the average person found themselves on the merry-go-round of persistent yo-yo dieting which we see up to the present day.

 “First they are shamed by society, then they are told that when they don’t lose weight long term through commercial diet programmes that it is their fault.” (James Pretti, ‘The Men Who Make Us Fat’)

Being stigmatised, or under peer pressure to conform with what is attractive when it comes to weight and size also creates psychological issues. Clearly being underweight can be as serious a health issue as carrying too much weight due to poor food choices and habits.

And it stands to reason that if we aren’t getting the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need from shifting the balance to eating too much processed food, and we are encouraged to expand on our portion size, then the results can prove to be dangerously divisive when it comes to our fitness, our health, (think type 2 diabetes), and longevity.  

I’ve come to the conclusion that emphasis on ‘weight management’ should be less aligned to weighing scales and constant dieting, and more akin to increasing our knowledge and understanding of nutrition, portion size and general good health and fitness. 

 Changing your mind …

Food for thoughtThe more we eat the more our mind is triggered to believe it wants even more as a method of survival – it becomes part of the human imperative to feast in case of times of famine!

So now we are beginning to  understand more about foods, and the industries that are built around food, we can look at ways to take back control for what we are putting into our bodies. This means eating the right sized portions to enable us to stay fit and healthy which also effects benefits in weight-loss and maintenance.

Bad habits or addictions to certain foods can also be connected to emotional issues such as comfort eating, problems around acceptance or feelings of belonging, attractiveness, boredom, social pressures and self-esteem, anxiety and as a reward tactic. 

Are you ready to make a permanent change?

Cognitive hypnotherapy adds value by supporting you in helping you to change your relationship with food and with yourself. This is NOT a diet and is much more than a desire for weight-loss – it’s a way to help you change old habits and behaviours around food, so that you can achieve your goals and have a much better relationship with food.

Ultimately you are responsible for really wanting to change and putting in the work to make this a reality. You will be supported in:

  • Breaking those habits that have built up over the years and replacing them with more suitable behaviours. RESULT: eating sensible portions and having a much better relationship with food, thereby breaking the constant diet syndrome.
  • Finding out what it is that makes your behaviour unique to you, thus acquiring tools to help you conquer cravings and move forward.
  • Setting SMART* goals on how you tackle this problem, plus hypnotic downloads to help reprogram your brain towards finding better solutions to fill emotional needs.
  • Relearning how to listen to your body to recognise when you are full, meaning that you can refrain from overeating.
  • Stopping blaming yourself, living up to the expectations of others or the glossy, air-brushed magazine images, by exploring how to improve your own self-esteem. We can be our own worst critic even when we know that nobody is perfect! (whatever perfect is, it’s a perception).
  • Discovering the emotional connections; that means you stop reaching for less healthy snacks and pursue the real solution to your problem.
  • Looking at ways to relieve stress in your life. Stress can make us fat, especially around the belly, which can be a health issue.

Get off the battleground, get aware of what’s going on around you and within you and make peace with food and your body.

Take a look at how I can help you by visiting my weight loss page and when your ready let’s see how Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help you to get back in control and make contact.

 *SMART refers to aiming for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound goals