Archive for Health

How exactly does Stress cause Illness and Disease? The latest Science on the ‘Allostatic Load’

Stress is bad for us…

stressApparently. Well we all know that by now don’t we, because even the medical profession say so quite openly? But HOW exactly is stress bad for us? HOW exactly does something as commonplace as stress affect our immune systems and cause illness, and later disease? ( Aside from the emotional and psychological havoc it wreaks as well! ). If you’re interested, read on – I’m going to summarise the findings of recent research carried out in the U.S. by J G Logan at The University of North Carolina which introduces a more tangible and robust link, and certainly adds credibility to the role of mind-body based clinical interventions to help resolve, reverse ( yes really ) and prevent physical and mental health related problems.

Allostatic Load

It turns out it’s all to do with something called the Allostatic Load ( anyone who has attended one of my Mind Calm Meditation workshops will have heard me talk about this before: LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Events ). The Allostatic Load is an immunity-sapping burden which gets placed on our bodies and organs when our natural adaptive process of ‘Allostasis’ fails. So let’s just understand Allostasis before we go on.

If you remember back to Biology lessons in school, you will recall a similar term: ‘Homeostasis’ – the two processes are designed to keep us stable and well, they are similar but different.

Homeostasis is a sophisticated feedback mechanism, designed to reduce variability and maintain a constant environment throughout our bodily systems.

Allostasis actually favours variability over constancy, because it is our flexible adaption process – it is our internal environment adapting and changing in response to our external environment, or our stress producing psycho-social challenges.

So the Allostatic Load refers to the way in which normal allostatic adaption processes simply wear out or shut off – meaning that our internal physiological systems are rendered unable to adapt. Frequent or chronic responses to stressors, produce this shutting off in several of our important ( and essential for health and wellbeing ) physiological systems:

  • Immune system
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis

This forces our bodies into several types or combinations of ‘response patterns’, which can be thought of as ‘overactive or inefficiently managed allostatic responses’ – It is these energy sapping and inefficient responses which ultimately result in chronic illness. Let’s just dig a little deeper into the science to understand HOW that happens…..

These responses involve the whole brain and body.

The brain is where our response to stressors begins. It is here that the individual’s brain ‘decides’ what is going to be perceived as stressful – although we recognise some obvious common ‘stressors’ in the modern world, they are in fact different for everyone – The perceptions of the brain are influenced by individual differences including: genes, historical experiences, early development and learned behaviours. So it is our own individual ‘perceived stress’, which then initiates the physiological and behavioural responses, and these responses then lead to allostasis across various bodily systems.

A combination of health damaging effects then happen:

  • Adrenaline and cytokines cause tissue damage or receptor desensitization in the organs
  • Glucocorticoids cause a suppression of the immune system
  • Cytokines cause atherosclerosis ( clogging of arteries ) and obesity
  • Cortisol results in atropy ( dying off ) of nerve cells in the brain which leads to anxious depression – in fact certain areas of the brain can actually shrink and become less functional, one example of such is the hippocampus which is important for memory and new learning
  • The amygdala – the part of the brain most important in setting off the physiological stress responses – actually grows. Yes the more stressed we get, the better our brains become at triggering us into even further stress!!

This is why we need to start taking stress seriously rather than normalising it and wearing it with a badge of honour. It may be an overused word in everyday language, but it is a potent force which is making us sick, less capable, emotionally unstable and in many cases – seriously ill.

Resilience

So why do some people seem to succumb to the effects of stress yet others fare better? And how can we use this knowledge to help vulnerable people?

Resilience, as defined by Fossion and Linkowsi ( 2007 ) is:

“The ability to successfully adapt and function proficiently when faced with traumatic circumstances”. Resilience minimises wear and tear, keeps the Allostatic Load to a minimum. 

Some people, down to a combination of their genetics, their childhood experiences and their early developmental environment, are just ‘wired up’ in their brains for better resilience. Others are conversely ‘wired up’ for less.

Firstly, the good news is the brain is plastic – meaning whilst it can shrink and grow in a way which is not useful – it can also grow and shrink in reverse, in ways which are helpful and reverse the effects of stress and boost resilience. This ability of the brain to change is called Neural Plasticity, it describes the brain’s inherent ability to ‘re-wire’.

In other words, people who have become less resilient can change their brains, with the right interventions to enhance their resilience and completely change what might have seemed like their biological fate and their physiological outcomes. Many recent studies have shown that clinical interventions increase resilience, reverse stress and change health outcomes.

Meditation

One practice, which has gathered a robust body of clinical evidence over the last 10 years is meditation. A modern meditation practice such as Mindfulness, has been shown to reverse the signs of stress, at a cellular level, and to completely re-wire the brain in as little as 8 weeks ( Professor Sara Lazar – Harvard Medical School )  – Modern forms of meditation are growing on popularity in integrative therapeutic approaches to improve emotional health, as well as with growing number of professionals who want to resolve their stress levels to perform better, feel happier and create more success in their lives.

If reading this has inspired you to make some changes to your own stress / life / health – and you would like to work with me One to One or in a Group Coaching format, you can read more or make enquiries via the following links:

–      My website – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk

–      Mind CALM Modern Meditation Workshops held all over the UK – MIND CALM

–      Mind CALM Meditation taught in a relaxing retreat setting ( Ibiza or Bordeaux ) – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Retreats

–      ‘Serenity & Success Coaching Workshops’:

MANCHESTER Thursday 10am-5pm 14/05/15

LONDON Thursday evenings (x3)  4/06/15 & 11/06/15 & 18/06/15

–      Corporate Coaching Programmes – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Corporate

Lisa Bardell is a Performance Coach, NLP Master Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Modern Meditation Coach running private clinics in the heart of the City of London ( Liverpool St ) and Cheshire, and Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London. Lisa leads regular Coaching Workshops and Retreats, tickets and details can be found in the Eventbrite link:

LisaBardellCoachingLtd.eventbrite.co.uk

Some science on Emotion and your Brain

brain articleHave you ever pondered what the science is behind the barely tangible, but extremely familiar daily experience of feeling emotions? Sometimes we feel these formless waves of inner communication so strongly that they seem to run the show. As a therapist I’m fascinated by the science of emotions.

 

In a recent article by Rick Hanson PhD, he shares some interesting information on the major brain regions that support our processing and experience of emotions. I’m going to give you a whistle stop tour of your brain, and the areas within it which influence our moods and feelings.

 

Our conscious experience of emotion is just the top layer of icing on a much bigger cake. It rests on many layers of neurological activity such as the firing of very complex and intertwining neural circuits and the tidal flows of neurotransmitters and hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.

 

So let’s look at the brain regions and their role in our emotional experience.

 

  • Hippocampus – This region helps store the contexts, especially visual-spatial ones, for important experiences, such as the smell of a predator or the look of an angry expression. It is necessary for forming personal memories of events, and is unfortunately damaged over time by the cortisol released by chronic stress, especially, high or even traumatic levels of stress. If you needed another good reason to resolve your stresses, and to take up meditation, then here you have it.
  • Amygdala – Connected to the hippocampus by the neural equivalent of a four-lane superhighway, this small, almond shaped region is particularly involved in the processing of information about threats. The subjective awareness of threat comes from the feeling of the experience when it is unpleasant. When the amygdala perceives a threat – whether an external stimulus like a car hurtling towards us at speed, or an internal one, such as suddenly remembering we are on a tight project deadline – the amygdala sends a jolt of alarm to the hypothalamus and other brain regions. It also triggers the ventral tegmentum, in the brain stem, to send dopamine to other areas of the brain, in order to sensitize them to the “red flag” information streaming through.
  • Hypothalamus – This is the major switchboard of the brain, involved in the regulation of basic bodily drives such as thirst and hunger. When it gets a “red flag” signal from the amygdala, it communicates to the pituitary gland to kick start the adrenals to release epinephrine and other stress hormones, to get the body ready for immediate Fight or Flight action, known as the Fight or Flight Response or the Stress Response. This very same activation of the Stress Response occurs not just when a wild tiger chases us through the woods, but also in a chronic and ongoing way to our ‘imagined’ threats and everyday stresses, like when our boss reprimands us, our deadlines get tight, or when we respond to internal mental events such as pain or anger etc.
  • Prefrontal Cortex This region is involved in anticipating the future, making plans, organizing action, monitoring results, changing plans, and settling conflicts between different goals. These are called the Executive Functions. Where emotion is concerned, the Prefrontal Cortex helps us to foresee the emotional rewards (or penalties) of different courses of action. It also inhibits emotional reactions. Many more nerve fibers head down from the Prefrontal Cortex to the Limbic System circuitry than in the other direction. The left side of the Prefrontal Cortex plays a special role in controlling negative emotion and aggression. For example, stroke victims whose left Prefrontal Cortex is damaged tend to become more irritable, distraught, and hostile. Activation of the left Prefrontal Cortex is associated with positive emotions, which, has been proven to be stimulated by long term meditation practice. Once again, just in case you needed any further motivation to meditate, you have it right here!
  • Anterior Cingulate Cortex – This sits in the middle of the brain, centrally located for communication with the Prefrontal Cortex and the Limbic System. It monitors conflicts between different potential objects of attention, for example ‘Should I notice the flowers in these bushes or that snake slithering toward me?’,  ‘Should I listen to my wife’s story or focus on this TV show?’. It flags these conflicts for resolution by the frontal lobes. Therefore, it lights up when we attend to emotionally relevant stimuli, or sustain our attention to important feelings – inside ourselves and other people – in the face of competing stimuli. In action, this would help us to read and sense emotions in others, instead of perhaps getting lured off track by their words which might attempt to contradict their true emotion.
  • Nucleus Accumbens – In conditions of emotional arousal, especially fear-related, the accumbens receives a major wake-up call of dopamine, which primes it to receive information coming from the amygdala and other regions. Consequently, the accumbens sends more intense signals to the brain relay station for the motor systems, which results in heightened behavioral activity. This system works for both negative and positive feelings. For example, the accumbens would light up if an addict were to see their drug or drink of choice.
  • Insula – The insula is involved in picking up the inner sensations of the body, the changes which come with different emotional states. It is the brain region which unlocks the deeper layers of your emotional life, and it is also key to empathy, to being able to sense the primary emotions in others, such as fear, pain, or disgust.

As a therapist and meditation coach I love to understand a little more about the inner mechanics of neural patterns, those very patterns, connections and brain regions which we are able to change for the better with effective therapy and meditation practices.

Neural plasticity is the term which is used by neuroscientists to describe the ever changing inner structure of connections and connectivity within the brain. The good news is, that your brain is not a genetically pre-determined lump of matter. It is plastic, and with the right guidance, interventions and practice, it can change in a way which results in more positive emotions, improved resilience, less stress, better concentration and quicker learning.

Lisa Bardell is a Performance Coach, NLP Master Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Modern Meditation Coach running private clinics in the heart of the City of London ( Liverpool St ) and Cheshire, and Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London. Lisa leads regular Coaching Workshops and Retreats, tickets and details can be found in the Eventbrite link:

– LisaBardellCoachingLtd.eventbrite.co.uk

LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk

LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Meditation

LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Events

LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Retreats

There’s more to Weight Loss than Willpower…

Weight Loss Secrets

What is the key to successful and sustainable weight loss? Most of my clients who want to work with me to lose weight, to change their eating habits, or to resolve a relationship with food which feels completely out of control, ask for more willpower. That is what they believe they truly need, and a good dose of extra willpower will sort out all their food, eating and therefore weight issues. So is that it? Is weight gain, over-eating and bingeing all a simple matter of being weak willed? Well, there is more to it than that. Willpower – or resisting that which is it hard to say NO to –  is NOT the only focus during therapy courses to help with weight loss, or to remedy poor eating habits. Willpower is only ever a temporary strategy which fatigues like a muscle…

image

Let’s look at the bigger picture when it comes to really working successfully with clients who want to lose weight, and keep it off. Enlisting the help of a hypnotherapist can be the difference that really makes the difference for many clients, after years of weight gain, and very limited success at losing weight which then just seems to pile back on faster than ever. If you are reading because this resonates with you, it’s likely that some of the below will be familiar:

  • A sense of ongoing struggle to lose weight and keep it off.
  • Food cravings, constant thoughts of food, diet, figure.
  • Overeating, not controlling portions, not knowing when you are full, or eating when you know you are full.
  • Eating to feel better in times of stress or emotional strain, using food as a treat or reward.
  • No energy or motivation to exercise.
  • Poor body image – feeling unattractive, withdrawn, depressed about your weight.
  • Feeling stressed and managing a stressful life, juggling and keeping people happy.

The effect of stress

Firstly let’s look at the role of stress and negative emotion in weight gain. The talk of stress has become part of everyday life for many of us. There are many ways to work on managing stress, and resolving negative emotions, but this is particularly important in relation to clients who struggle to lose weight and keep it off, because stress effects the physiology of our whole body and plays havoc with our metabolism and appetite. The effect of stress on our systems creates all the wrong conditions for weight loss and emotional well-being. In fact instead it leads us to hold on to calories or gain weight. The more stressed you are about your life, relationships or your work, the more difficult it will be to lose weight, and the more negative emotion you will need to ‘soothe and comfort’ with food. Ironically the more stressed and upset you are about your weight and your body, the more you are likely to hold on to weight and slow your metabolism down.

The stress hormone cortisol causes fatigue in the adrenal glands, which is likely to lead to

  • Cravings.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Irregular appetite.
  • Fatigue and poor sleep.
  • Slow metabolism.
  • Weight gain around the middle and abdomen.

When working with my clients who want to lose weight and change a dysfunctional relationship with food, we always work on resolving the stress and the negative emotion FIRST. The first port of call for all clieats is to help them feel OK, positive and resourceful,  just as they are. The more a client depends and ‘needs’ weight loss or any change in their body or their lives, as their ONLY way to feel good – the more they get locked into patterns of downward spiralling emotion and despair, which is painful and fuels the very problems they are trying to fix. 

Some people choose to comfort or soothe pain with alcohol, some choose exercise, some gambling, some sex or sexual attention, some spend lots of money, some book facials, treatments or spa weekends. We all tend to have our own range of go-to strategies to pick us up when we feel down – with clients who binge or overeat, food has become their strategy.

The science of weight loss therapy

Neural-plasticity is the term we use to explain the brain’s natural ability to change and make new connections and pathways. It explains how people are able to make extraordinary changes in the way they think, feel and behave after therapy.

If we allow the brain to be in a different, specific state, it learns that state, and finds it much easier to get back to it again through the pathways which have already been created.

Hypnosis, NLP and EFT collapse any old neural pathways in the brain which are behind the old thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns towards food, eating and health. In turn through specific techniques and skilful language patterns, the skilled therapist will guide each client to form new pathways and patterns in the brain which are in line with all the changes they want, the changes that are going to make a sustainable difference to their weight, health and emotional comfort.

Willpower and the brain

During client sessions I focus on the three components of willpower, which correspond with three different areas of the brain within the pre-frontal cortex, which is found just behind the forehead.

  • Right side – “I WON’T” – This area is responsible for our ability to stop doing something, which is not useful or in line with our goals. You can fill in the gaps here with your own story!
  • Left side – “I WILL” – This area is responsible for our ability to find motivation to do something, stick at it, stay on track even when it gets a bit tough, boring or inconvenient. I will leave these examples to your imagination…( who mentioned ‘treadmill’?)
  • Underneath – “I WANT” – This area is responsible for our ability to have a really clear idea of what we want, what the point is, the bigger picture, why our goals are so important to us. This area keeps us in touch with remembering what we care about most…Health. Comfort. Vitality. Longevity. Wardrobe options. Feeling great about ourselves and our bodies! This is a very important area to work on.

With all of these lines of communication in the brain strengthened both inside and between each specific area, can you already see how that old idea of needing strong willpower becomes less of an issue?

With these brain changes in place, it naturally becomes easier to make good intentional choices.

Willpower implies that there is a constant and challenging struggle, that staying on track is going to be hard, a battle we must be strong to win. Is this what it’s all about? Thankfully not! Once the root cause issues are fully resolved, the old patterns and dependancies ( whatever they are ) just fall away, like a layer of skin ready to shed – like something which is no longer needed, which no longer fits.

Success and sustainable change is simply a matter of therapeutically re-wiring our unconscious patterns and neural pathways in a new and more useful way. A way that is aligned with the “I want”. That is what Hypnosis, NLP and EFT are so brilliant at helping with – getting into those deeper layers of the unconscious or subconscious programming, and influencing change where it is needed.

If you are undecided whether to invest in the help of an expert practitioner to tackle your goals, here are some great tips for you tackling it alone:

Before you begin taking action to lose weight, apply yourself to this exercise in full in preparation to do it more easily

  • Really identify what you want in detail, get in touch with it – The “I WANT”
  • Express that in positives, so it really is about what you want e.g., health, freedom to make healthy choices, fitness, comfort in my clothes, wardrobe and style choices, energy, focuS.
  • AVOID negative language, even if it is internal chatter, is activating the most unhelpful neural pathways in your brain for the job in hand. The power of words and language is immense, so choose it wisely to activate helpful neurology!
  • What will achieving your goals give you – in positives.
  • How will it feel – How will you look – What will people say to you – What will you be saying to yourself?
  • Have reminders of your goal around if that helps – photos, outfits, holidays, wedding dates – whatever makes it real and keeps it in your awareness
  • Buddy up and have support from others  – but keep the talk positive!
  • Plan and organize – shopping, schedules, recipes, Tupperware…think ahead so you create healthy choices for yourself and avoid getting hungry – that’s when the internal saboteur kicks in.
  • How do you need to be feeling, what states are most useful? Confident, focussed, motivated, calm, positive?
  • Choose a couple of useful emotional states and IMMERSE yourself in them, by remembering times when you felt like that before. See, hear, feel – get fully in touch with the emotion, and allow your brain to just naturally make these connections.
  • The brain doesn’t know the difference between imagining yourself in to a positive emotional state, or whether it arrived organically – YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT CARE!! It fires together all the confident, calm, positive neurons, and they then wire together – just like re-wiring your brain for success. Clever eh?

Some practical tips

  • Practice simple paced breathing before eating (or any time you want to relax)  or during cravings – If you focus your attention on taking deep slow breaths, and allow your out-breath to be longer than your in-breath ( in for the count of 5/6 out for the count of 7/8 ) The vagus nerve responds by putting the body into the ‘relaxation response’ which allows you better digestion, faster metabolic rate, better decision making to have your actions around food fully aligned with your goals.
  • Mindful eating  – Enjoy the sight and the smell of your food. Enjoy each mouthful slowly, savouring the taste and texture. Eat slowly, taking breaks to put your cutlery down, stay in touch with the signals from your gut which tell your brain you are full and satisfied.
  • Allow you brain and body time and space to ENJOY and take PLEASURE from food.

 

If you would like to read more about me, or my Specialist Weight Loss & Disordered Eating Therapy, the link below might be of interest. I work one to one from my private clinics in Cheshire and London, or over Skype.

http://lisabardellcoaching.co.uk/weight-loss/ 

Rumination causes Stress, Anxiety & Depression – It’s official!

The UK’s biggest ever online test into stress

The BBC’s Lab UK and the University of Liverpool, have revealed that rumination is the biggest predictor of the most common mental health problems in the country.

It’s official! Dwelling on the past and predicting the future can predispose you to Stress, Anxiety and Depression.

rumination

The BBC News Magazine online, reported the study last year. Whilst psychologists agree that a little self-reflection can be a good thing, it has now been shown that when introspection goes awry and thoughts get stuck on repeat, playing over and over in the mind it leads to emotional and mental health issues of all kinds.

The new research has demonstrated the scale of negative impact which the ruminating thinking style carries.

Psychological response

The ground-breaking study, published in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’, suggests that brooding too much on negative events is the biggest predictor of depression and anxiety and determines the level of stress people experience. The research even suggests a person’s psychological response is a more important factor than what has actually happened to them.

A total of 32,827 people from 172 countries took part in the online stress test devised by the BBC’s Lab UK and psychologists at the University of Liverpool, making it the biggest study of its kind ever undertaken in the UK.

Peter Kinderman, who led the study and is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool says “We found that people who didn’t ruminate or blame themselves for their difficulties had much lower levels of depression and anxiety, even if they’d experienced many negative events in their lives”.

“Dwelling on negative thoughts and self blame have previously been recognised as important when it comes to mental health, but not to the extent this study has shown. The findings suggest both are crucial psychological pathways to depression and anxiety.”

Life events

Traumatic life events, such as abuse or childhood bullying, were the biggest cause of anxiety and depression when dwelled upon. But importantly, these events in themselves do not cause depression and anxiety. The influence that these events bear on future mental health and emotional issues, is in leading a person to ruminate on what has happened.

These findings show us how psychological response styles in themselves are causal and integral to the development of problems or later diagnoses, and that people do not merely become ill and then show changes in their psychology as a result.

Is there something we can do to stop rumination?

Indeed there is….

Meditation is a simple practice, which teaches us mastery over our own attention. If we ruminate and over-think, we are unconsciously giving all of our attention to our minds. In brain terms the area of activity is in the Posterior Cinglate Cortex – which is like our ‘self-referential’ thinking default network.

Unbeknown to most of us, our brains can easily be trained, in fact totally re-wired, to quiet down this area of the brain, in order that we can experience ‘effortless awareness’. Our minds can be the most brilliant tool, but sometimes we can end up getting used and abused BY our minds. Meditation helps us to train our attention and reclaim our power over our attention and our thoughts.

Scientific research into people who meditate discovered there were dramatic physiological changes versus non-meditators. MRI scanning has allowed science to look at the brain in a way which was not possible previously. Modern research has looked at how meditation changes the structure of the brain, something which it has always done since it’s origins, but which had not been measured until the last decade.

What goes on in the brain?

The amygdala is the part of the brain which produces the Stress Response. Recent research by neuroscientist Dr Sarah Lazar, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and associate researcher in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown that with regular meditation, the amygdala gets ‘turned down’ and shrinks, it gets quieter in a way which is consistent with decreased arousal and greater feelings of peace.

What’s interesting is that in the study the external life of the participants had not changed at all, it was simply their response to their external ‘stressors’ which changed. Reducing stress and anxiety need not be about changing your life, it is about changing your relationship to your life.

Mind Calm Meditation

If you would like to learn Mind Calm Meditation with me, get in touch. It is a simple, modern and highly effective technique created by best selling author, acclaimed meditation teacher and award winning trainer Sandy C. Newbigging. I have been trained personally by Sandy to teach this method and I offer it as one to one coaching or in group workshops.

Take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm ‘Serenity & Success Workshops’ – These ever more popular events have been selling out all over the UK since June 2014, with a growing audience and word of mouth spreading the tangible, achievable and LIFE CHANGING benefits which clients experience within a matter of weeks of being taught this transformational technique. READ MORE OR BOOK HERE:

LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Events – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/CorporateLisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Meditation 

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The Science of Stress: How to Resolve It….Without having to Change your Life

Some of us wear Stress like a badge of honour

stressStress has become such an overused word in our day to day language, and this normalisation has distracted us from the inconvenient truth about its physiological, psychological and emotional toxic load. It’s time to wake up…..Ignore this at your peril!

 

I wrote this article for National Stress Awareness Day last year, 5th November 2014. It presents you my take on the modern Science of Stress – and the latest research which supports how a practice  which has been around for centuries is increasingly being seen as ‘cutting edge’  solution….

 

What is Stress?

Stress is caused by the activation of the Stress Response also known as the Fight or Flight Response, it is designed to get us out of danger – it can be thought of as a turbo boost of energy, like the body going into a different gear to prepare us to have the strength and energy to fight, or to flee from threat. Our ancestors would have used it to survive from predators or danger. It revs up the body like this:

 

  • Increases heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilates blood vessels to muscles to pump through sugars and fats
  • Kickstarts the respiratory drive so we start to sweat to keep ourselves cool
  • Thickens the blood
  • Pumps out inflammatory chemicals to activate our immune cells ready for tissue repair if we get wounded in fight or in escape

It is a major physiological, neurological, immunological and metabolic event! It effects changes throughout our whole system.

Clearly, it is an evolutionary adaptation designed to help us respond to a clearly perceived present moment threat, to save our lives….

So what’s gone awry?

Well put simply, as modern humans we are too ‘clever’ for our own good. Now what happens on a weekly, if not daily basis, is that our cognitive function works against us. Our ability to think, to analyse, recall the past and predict the future is what causes us stress.

Our everyday thoughts cause our stress. They do so in a way that physiologically is as ‘real’ as if we were genuinely having to escape a wild, hungry tiger, an axe wielding intruder, or a high speed bus with failed breaks…

What drives or produces our stressy thoughts?

Let’s look at some Psychology. If we break the human experience down into very simple terms, we have three important ‘need systems’ which we are driven to meet.

  • 1/ Safety – This is the drive to feel safe and secure in order that we can experience peacefulness.
  • 2/ Satisfaction – This is the drive to seeking rewards in order that we can experience contentment.
  • 3/ Connection – This is the drive to seeking attachment in order that we can experience feelings of love.

These three need systems and their respective drives influence our behaviours in two ways….Firstly ‘avoiding’ behaviours so we can avoid pain, harm and danger. Secondly ‘approaching’ behaviours so we can illicit rewards and pleasure.

If one or more need system is not being met, we activate the Stress Response.

We might consider the constant activation of the response as a modern violation of the evolutionary model, where the Stress Response was designed to come in short bursts. Today, sadly it has become a chronic and ongoing reaction.

So how does this effect us?

Well the emotional and psychological effects are broad ranging, any of the below might be what you would notice in yourself or others:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • Creative blocks
  • Worrying
  • Negative thinking
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Tearfulness

We have all been there!

Physically there’s a whole other batch of symptoms, due to what science terms the Allostatic Load, this is the bodily wear and tear that becomes a burden on our physical as well as mental health due to our natural ‘Adaptive Responses’ to external perceived stressors getting worn out, and simply shutting off.

  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension and teeth grinding
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Allergies and skin irritations
  • IBS
  • Weight gain
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Dizziness and palpitations
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss due to shrinkage of the Hippocampus
  • High blood pressure

All in all it’s rather unpleasant, but more importantly in the long term this toxic load causes inflammation in our internal environment, and taxes the immune system very heavily meaning we succumb to illness and chronic disease as the body’s self healing mechanism gets switched off.

Please say there’s some good news!

Indeed there is….What science has now shown us, is that once we learn how to switch off the Stress Response, when it is not necessary, we can reverse all of the effects of stress right through the body, at a cellular level, and throughout the brain as well.

The major breakthrough in this understanding came from Herbert Benson MD, who discovered that the body has a capacity for an opposite response to the Stress Response, which works as an antidote to it, it is called the Relaxation Response.

Ok, how do we do it?

There’s a really simple solution which will only take 15-20 minutes of your day, and it has been around for over 2000 years! Meditation is the answer

Scientific research into people who meditate discovered there were dramatic physiological changes versus non-meditators:

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Quieting of the body
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slower breathing rate
  • Slower brainwaves

All of the above are integral to the Relaxation Response, and these studies allowed it to became recognized by science, it was measurable, predictable and reproducible.

MRI scanning has allowed science to look at the brain in a way which was not possible previously. Modern research has looked at how meditation changes the structure of the brain, something which it has always done since it’s origins, but which had not been measured until the last decade.

What goes on in the brain?

The amygdala is the part of the brain which produces the Stress Response. Recent research by neuroscientist Dr Sarah Lazar, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and associate researcher in Psychiatry at Massachusetts Genera Hospital, has shown that with regular meditation, the amygdala gets ‘turned down’ and shrinks, it gets quieter in a way which is consistent with decreased arousal and greater feelings of peace.

What’s interesting is that in the study the external life of the participants had not changed at all, it was simply their response to their external ‘stressors’ which changed. Reducing stress is not about changing your life, it is about changing your relationship to your life. Simple!

Mind Calm Meditation

If you would like to learn Mind Calm Meditation with me, get in touch. It is a simple, modern and highly effective technique created by best selling author, acclaimed meditation teacher and award winning trainer Sandy C. Newbigging. I have been trained personally by Sandy to teach this method and I offer it as One to One coaching or in Group Workshops.

Take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book on to one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country:

Workshops – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Events

Retreats – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Retreats

Mind Calm Information and Testimonials – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Meditation

Corporate Coaching Programmes – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Corporate

Lisa Bardell is a Performance Coach, NLP Master Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Modern Meditation Coach running private clinics in the heart of the City of London ( Liverpool St ) and Cheshire, and Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London. Lisa leads regular Coaching Workshops and Retreats, tickets and details can be found in the Eventbrite link:

– LisaBardellCoachingLtd.eventbrite.co.uk

 

Your attention wants to go somewhere….Would you like to reclaim your power over it?

There are only two places your attention can actually go….

The first is where it usually goes, through habit – to your MIND

Having all of our attention, all of the time, on the movement of our minds causes us stress and angst. The more we get sucked into the movement, the more movement we create, the more movement we create, the more we get sucked in. It’s like we are constantly throwing fuel on the fire and trying to keep it alight.

This old habit is unconscious, we don’t realise we are doing it, we have no idea there is actually a choice, another option. We are not failing because we don’t know, it is just that no-one taught us yet.

The alternative is to have our attention inward, on to the much greater and more powerful aspect of ourselves, our INNER AWARENESS which is already perfectly still, calm and peaceful. This is how we are born, and how we are as children…operating from AWARENESS, without having to engage in any thinking about, or analysing that which we are aware of.

We feel what we focus on….

It’s no surprise that through focusing our attention on the ever changing, transient and random movement of our minds, that we have become a stressed out nation – the only consistent result with this mind based strategy is that we are always striving – chasing and needing things, people, circumstances and events – only to move the goalposts as soon as we tick the box. This leads to more striving and effort, and the result is the same…After all that striving and effort, we don’t feel any better deep down, once the transient thrill, high or glory has worn off. How draining.

By contrast if we learn some mastery over our attention, and we re-direct it to the ever-present but often forgotten aspect of our inner stillness, of course we feel stillness….

From this position we also get to observe…

We can quietly observe the movement of our minds, that very movement which used to attract us like a magpie to a shiny piece of tinfoil….Also from this position it can all seem rather daft and a little irrelevant too.

Our minds are really just a speck within the vastness of our true nature – but a speck which, unwittingly we had under the microscope, inflated in size and importance.

Are you ready to wake up and see things as they are?

Are you ready to step away from that microscope? When you are ready to RECLAIM YOUR ATTENTION in doing so you reclaim your power.

Take a look at my website pages where you will find all you need if you are deciding whether a modern Mind Mastery technique is right for you.

Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country:

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WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/MEDITATION

WWW.LISABARDELCOACHING.CO.UK/WORKSHOPS

 

 

 

 

 

6 Top Tips to ‘Re-wire’ Your Brain for Success with Diets, Food Plans, Exercise Regimes and Lifestyle Changes.

How come some people just seem to stay on the path of healthy choices and actions around food and exercise, yet others find it a struggle to stay on track? Are some of us just hard-wired for ‘Self-Control’ and others for ‘Self Sabotage’?

Well fortunately, whilst ‘yes’, we are wired up in either of those ways……We are only soft-wired, and with the right application we can ‘re-wire’ more usefully. Let’s look at what goes on in the brain…

nlpweb

Neural Pathways

Our brains have thousands of pathways which carry our messages of thought and emotion through the body. These thoughts and emotions can dictate our actions and behaviours. So for instance, with exercise and diet, our thoughts may be either healthy and motivated….or not so….

Either way, those thought patterns and pathways will all have ‘neurological’ activity associated with them in our brains. The key to changing our actions and behaviours relating to exercise and healthy food choices, is in changing our thoughts. This way we can become ‘wired up’ for success. Where some of us used to believe we needed Herculean willpower to change, actually all we need to do is think different thoughts! Willpower is like a muscle, it is only ever a temporary strategy, as it will fatigue eventually. The way to make lasting change is to think, feel and respond differently around that which we used to need willpower to avoid.

The brain is genius at learning ‘neurological’ patters, ie, patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, and it is rather indiscriminate, it does not really care what the outcome of the pattern is, it just goes for the ‘well trodden path’ as it were. This is how the negative patterns take hold – with increased usage they can turn in to superhighways! This is how we get ‘locked in’ to certain patterns and habits, even when we really want to change.

Actually, this is really great news, as the what’s key here, is that the brain is genius at learning. If what it has learnt is no longer useful, it can be un-learnt, and replaced with a new more useful pattern in line with you really want. ‘Neural Plasticity’ is the scientifically documented term we use to describe that the brain can change. Neural connections which are unsupportive can collapse and dissolve when we STOP using them, and NEW neural connections which are supportive can be formed through repeated use. YOU can be in charge of molding your own brain. What a relief!

So, why do some people find it harder to exercise self control than others?

This apparent ‘self control’ is really more about choice. People who appear to have ‘self control’ will most often not see their actions as acts of control. Rather, they will feel as though they are making good choices in line with what they want, and what is important to them.

Usually they have a longer term view ( the goal ) rather than focussing on the pleasure they may get in that moment, they are able to ‘play the song to the end’ ie, they are able to predict how having too much cake, chocolate, pizza or whatever would make them feel, how it would impact their figure, or affect their health further down the line. Instead they choose NOT to, knowing that this free choice supports them feeling good and looking good. These free choices become automated, they become so natural they require no deliberation or willpower.

Anything that has to involve ‘control’ or ‘willpower’ implies to us that it is hard, a struggle or a battle – with that language we are setting ourselves up for an arduous task, and therefore already getting ourselves into a negative state and implying potential defeat.

6 Top Tips to Make NEW Choices and Take Different Actions

1/ Know YOUR Goal

Express it in POSITIVE language – Remove the focus from what you don’t want ( too fat, clothes don’t fit, don’t feel sexy, no-one will fancy me this size etc etc ) and shift it to what you DO want…Health, Vitality, Wardrobe Freedom, Fitness, Muscle Tone, Energy….etc

A motivation TOWARDS something positive is much more powerful and supportive than one that is AWAY from something you don’t want.

2/ Mind YOUR Language

You may think that moaning, complaining and self criticizing is just a harmless reflection of your inner state. IT IS NOT! Each time you do it, whether you do it out loud or to yourself, you are firing off all of those neural pathways involved in your ‘stuck’ pattern and keeping it firmly in place.

Take responsibility for your self-talk, and get in command of it to begin BREAKING those old patterns.

Yes you can acknowledge how you feel ( pushing away feelings and pretending you feel another way is not what I’m suggesting ). Give your current state a voice, state how you feel and why you feel that way. Acknowledge where you are at. BUT then move your attention purposefully towards what you want by reminding yourself of your goal, in positive and supportive language, and of all your positive attributes and strengths – especially those which illustrate all that you have already achieved and succeeded at.

Imagine what the ‘you’ from the future, who has already achieved your goal would say, and use those words of support and encouragement to stay on track.

3/ Conscious Eating

Before each meal or snack, get yourself into the right state of mind in order to stay on track with your choices.

Firstly, take a minute or two to just breathe slowly and deeply. This gets your body into a relaxation response which counteracts stress and enables you to make clearer choices.

You want to get yourself OUT of automatic eating, and INTO eating mindfully and consciously. Be aware of the present moment, what you can see, hear and feel. Now get yourself back in touch with your goal, with what you want, big picture.

Begin eating deliberately and slowly, seeing, smelling and tasting to food, noticing the texture of each mouthful. Keep returning to your deep slow breathing every so often, take a break from your food and put your knife and
fork down. ENJOY the experience of the food.

4/ Planning & Organising

Ensure you plan and organise yourself, looking ahead each week so you shop, and prepare food which you’re happy to eat, which you enjoy, and which fills you up, at the same time as being healthy. Don’t go too long without food so you get too hungry, this is where mistakes happen and the dreaded internal saboteur kicks in. Take responsibility for doing what you need to do, and don’t expect the perfect circumstances to just fall into your lap.

5/ Shrink YOUR Plate

Begin using smaller plates, allow your eyes and your stomach to adjust to smaller portions.

6/ Ditch Perfectionism!

If you make a few bad choices or life gets in the way – BE KIND TO YOURSELF – this is not failure.

Decide what you can learn from it and move forwards reconnecting with your goal. Progress not perfection is a useful mantra!

In fact perfectionist thinking patterns actually lead to negative emotions, to setting off the stress response within the brain, and to feelings of failure.

They are the NUMBER 1 cause of people falling ‘off the wagon’ or coming off track from any kind of plan.

I use a bespoke and highly effective blend of Hypnosis, NLP, EFT and Coaching for all weight and eating related issues, to resolve them at the emotional root cause. If you  are interested in my professional support to reach your goal and stay on track you can look at my website pages and make contact from there.

www.lisabardellcoaching.co.uk/weight-loss

www.lisabardellcoaching.co.uk/success-stories

www.lisabardellcoaching.co.uk/contact

What kind of Eater are YOU? 7 Tips for Health, Happiness and Weight Loss…

What is your idea of good nutrition?

Somewhere along the line, most of us have been taught to believe that good nutrition is simply a matter of eating the right food and taking the right supplements. Of course, this is true to a degree, but there’s more to this equation.

What we eat is only part of the story of good nutrition.

Who we are as eaters plays a role in our health across all bodily systems, and in turn in our weight.

Some examples:

  • What we think
  • How we feel
  • What we believe
  • Our levels of stress
  • How deeply and how easily we relax
  • How much time and space we create for pleasure
  • What inner stories we are living out

These all have a real, powerful, and scientific effect on nutritional metabolism.

Recent advances in mind-body science have been proving what ancient wisdom traditions have known for centuries – that the mind and body exist on an exquisite continuum, and profoundly impact one another.

This is actually good news……YOU can powerfully change your health and your nutritional status without changing anything you eat, but by changing you the eater.

Allow these tips and insights to guide you on along your path to health, happiness and emotional freedom ( AND of course….Weight Loss or Fat Loss! )

1.  Stress can pile on the pounds – Relaxation can let them GO

It’s fascinating how stress, fear, anxiety, anger, judgment and even negative self-talk can literally create a physiological stress response in the body. This means that we generate more cortisol and insulin, two hormones that have the unwanted effect of signaling the body to store weight, store fat, and stop building muscle. Strange as it may sound, we quite literally change our calorie burning capacity when we’re stressed. What’s more incredible though, is that as we learn to smile more, ease into life and breathe more deeply, the body enters a physiological relaxation response. In this state, we actually create our optimal day-in, day-out calorie-burning metabolism. So, you could be following the best weight loss diet in the world, but if you’re an anxious mess, the power of your mind is limiting the weight loss of your body. Far too many people adopt stressful weight loss strategies – impossible to follow diets, overly intense exercise programs, tasteless food, extremely low calorie meal plans – all of which can create the kind of stress chemistry that ensures our weight will stay put. It’s time to relax into weight loss. Yeahy!

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2.  Happiness is the best digestive aid.

Can you recall what happens when you eat during anxiety or stress? Many people report such symptoms as heartburn, cramping, gas, and digestive upset. During stress, the body automatically shifts into the classic fight-or-flight response. This feature of the nervous system evolved over millions of years as a brilliant safety mechanism to support us during life-threatening events. In the moment the stress response is activated, something very interesting happens – the digestive system shuts down. It makes perfect sense that when you’re fending off an angry tiger, you don’t need to waste energy digesting your breakfast. All the body’s metabolic energy is directed towards survival. So, you could be eating the healthiest food in the universe, but if you aren’t eating under the optimum state of digestion and assimilation – which happens to be relaxation – you literally and metabolically are not receiving the full nutritional value of your meal.

3.  Overeating – It’s simpler than you think.

Most people think they overeat because they have a willpower problem. “If only I had the willpower to control my appetite, then I would get to my goal weight.” Well, here’s the good news – willpower id not the problem. The problem for most overeaters is that they don’t actually “eat” when they eat. We need to be fully present to the meal, and often we are not! Eat CONSCIOUSLY  – be aware of the taste, eating slowly, or feel nourished by the food. When this happens, your brain, which requires taste and satisfaction, misses out on a key phase of the nutritional experience. Your brain literally thinks it didn’t eat, or didn’t eat enough. And it sends out the message that you are still hungry. So, you can dramatically decrease your overeating by increasing your awareness and presence at every meal.

4.  Slower eating means faster metabolism.

One of the most useful nutritional questions to ask a client or student is “Are you a fast eater, moderate eater, or slow eater?” If the answer is “fast”, then it’s time for an overhaul. That’s because the act of eating quickly is considered a stressor by the body. Humans are simply not biologically wired for high speed eating. So when we do eat fast, the body once again enters the physiological stress response, which results in decreased digestion, decreased nutrient assimilation, increased nutrient excretion, lowered calorie burning rate, and a bigger appetite. The bottom line is that you can literally empower your nutritional metabolism simply by slowing down. What’s fascinating is that for many fast eaters, slowing down is quite a challenge. But try it today! – eat slowly and feel nourished by your food, and take in all the sensations of your meal.

5.  Make pleasure a priority!

Far too many people are taught to believe that pleasure is something frivolous. Well, it’s actually required by our biology. All animals are programmed at the most primitive level of the nervous system to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Well, if you’re eating and not paying attention, the brain will drive you to seek more pleasure via overeating. What’s worse, if you’re stressed while eating, the excess cortisol in your system actually de-sensitizes us to pleasure – so you’ll need to eat more food in order to get the pleasure we are seeking.  If you want more pleasure from food, you don’t need to eat more. Simply breathe, relax, de-stress, enjoy, pay attention, and the body will naturally experience the pleasure it seeks. And the great news is, since pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response, it actually fuels digestion and assimilation

6.  Emotional eating is not the enemy.

At our core, we are emotional beings – complex, unpredictable creatures with a nervous system which allows us ‘feelings’ and emotions. We love, we celebrate, we laugh, cry, we break down, we rise up… So how could we NOT be emotional eaters? We love food. We love our favorite restaurant. We love how food makes us feel. Some of us love cooking for others. Some of us are passionate about nutrition. It’s time to get over it – if you’re human, you will bring your emotions to the table. Once we embrace the reality that we’re genetically hard-wired for emotional expression, we can begin to relax.  Underneath the quest to eradicate emotional eating from one’s life is often found a hidden desire to eliminate uncomfortable feelings. We strive for an impossible to attain goal that constantly leaves us frustrated and in failure. Emotional eating can be very painful. But it’s not the actual problem – it’s a symptom that’s pointing to something deeper. It’s an alert mechanism from body wisdom that’s calling us to check in, with more awareness and insight.

7.  De-tox your toxic beliefs.

Finally, many of us have absorbed toxic nutritional beliefs that are as harmful and debilitating as any of the toxins in our food. It’s surprisingly common for people to believe that “food is the enemy”, or “food makes me fat”, or “fat in food will become fat on my body” or “my appetite is the enemy” or “as soon as I have the perfect body, then I’ll finally be happy.” Such beliefs may seem harmless, yet they can create a relationship with food and self that’s filled with tremendous suffering and pain. Think about it – if “food is the enemy”, then we are constantly in a fight or flight stress response whenever we eat, or even think about food. Such a powerful stressor can cause all the problems of stress-induced digestive shutdown, decreased calorie burning capacity, and an inner life that’s seldom at peace. The question is: Is your relationship with food nourishing, or punishing?

I use a bespoke blend of Hypnosis, NLP, EFT and Coaching for all weight and eating related issues to resolve them at the emotional root, If you would like some help with anything you have read here, you can reach me on the website contact page where I’m available for One to Ones in London or Cheshire, or over skype.

I would also encourage you to look at my Mind Calm Workshops all over the UK, and save a date for one close to you and book via the Eventbrite link.

Mind Calm is the perfect way to become present, and to find your own permanently available ‘switch’ into the relaxation response. It can also help to create a sense of stillness and space in your life, even when all around might be chaotic and out of your control.

WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/WEIGHT-LOSS

WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/MEDITATION

WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/WORKSHOPS

5 Reasons To Consider Mind Calm Meditation

Meditation is getting more and more coverage for personal development, stress reduction, managing emotions and even for peak performance in business. The evidence base for how it works to actually change the brain has been established for a while now, but research and interest is continuing.

Mind Calm

The US are leading the way in incorporating Meditation practices into the office environment. Google have a designated ‘Head of Mindfulness’ role, filled currently by Chade-Meng Tan, to help guide their personnel on their journeys to inner peace whilst helping them to show up for work and bring their most resourceful, dynamic and creative selves to the party.

As with lots of science, the growing evidence base in support of Meditation, is merely catching up with ancient wisdom. Meditation practices have been around for thousands of years, and in terms of the brain, physical health and emotional wellbeing, Meditation has always worked the same way.

Reason 1/ ………The Science What’s changed?

What has changed is that neuroscience researchers became interested in studying the effects of Meditation, and neural imaging technology became advanced enough to actually measure the changes in the brain. SO suddenly the ears of the rational science types ( a bit like me! ) were pricking up left right and centre, as Meditation made the transition from ‘New Age’ and ‘Woo Woo’ to a serious and credible intervention to help people change or ‘re-wire’ the human brain for success, improved emotional wellbeing and a deeper sense of contentment. Of course all of these outcomes have a huge impact on our overall health.

Reason 2/ ………Resolving Stress

The biggest ‘win’ if you are to put it in broad terms, is that Meditation is a highly effective ‘de-stressor’. Stress, as you probably know causes illness, and disease through creating an inflammatory and toxic environment at a cellular level. It’s pretty much impossible to remain sustainably well with a toxic physiological state which science calls the Allostatic Load. And on the other hand it is perfectly possible to remain in a state of vitality and wellness if these inner ‘toxic’ conditions for the cells of our body are transformed. Bruce Lipton PhD, Professor of Anatomy, researcher at Stanford University Medical Center, author of ‘The Biology of Belief’ and leader in the emerging science field of Epigenetics, left one of his teaching posts in the 1960’s when his research proved that the medical establishment had been getting it wrong. He discovered that it is the cellular environment, which creates either dis-ease or wellness in the human body, NOT the genes. He believes that stress, negative emotions and limiting beliefs create a toxic environment for cells and cause illness and dis-ease. This truth is all the more empowering for us as individuals, as we can play with the possibility that WE actually have a guiding hand in creating an optimal cellular environment – rather than believing we are passive ‘victims’ to the genetic round of cards we have been dealt!……We have a CHOICE. And Meditation is one of those practices which helps us make this choice through resolving stress.

The amygdala is the part of the brain which produces the Stress Response. Recent research by neuroscientist Dr Sarah Lazar, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and associate researcher in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown that with regular meditation, the amygdala gets ‘turned down’ and shrinks, it gets quieter in a way which is consistent with decreased arousal and greater feelings of peace.

What’s interesting is that in the study the external life of the participants had not changed at all, it was simply their response to their external ‘stressors’ which changed. Reducing stress is not about changing your life, it is about changing your relationship to your life. Simple!

Reason 3/…….Thoughts ARE Allowed!!!

Contrary to popular misconception, Mind Calm Meditation does NOT require you to have to stop all your thoughts. Having thoughts does not mean you have failed. Granted there are many forms of meditation, and I will admit that from what I have heard from a bunch of experienced meditators, some forms are rather more ‘regimented’ than others in the practice of actually trying to stop thoughts. Mind Calm Meditation allows thoughts, emotions and sensations without trying to stop them. Peace or calm, which is often one of the desired outcomes from Meditation, is not about the absence of thoughts or emotions – rather it is experiencing ‘peace with thoughts and emotions’. Many people I have taught Mind Calm to had previously struggled to meditate, they felt frustrated or fidgety and experienced what seemed like millions of thoughts after attempting to ‘stop’ their thoughts. The good news is, you don’t have to!

Reason 4/……It prevents brain draining energy

Whilst thoughts are allowed, of course ‘stillness’ of mind is ultimately the point of learning Meditation. But what’s the point of stillness I hear you ask, and what’s so bad about having a busy mind in the first place, isn’t it just normal in today’s busy world?

Well, yes indeed it has become ‘normal’, but that’s not to say that it is helpful in any way. If we think of the brain as a electrical appliance ( it is constantly creating electrical brain wave activity after all ), we can explore what happens with the busy mind and how it affects the body. In our normal waking state we will be primarily in a Beta brainwave state, which is associated with a heightened state of alertness and focused concentration ranging from 12Hz to 40Hz. The higher up this frequency range we go, the busier our minds become and this leads to intrusive thoughts, over-thinking, stress and anxiety. Of course as if that is not unpleasant enough, it is also draining our brains and our bodily systems of precious energy, rather like having the electric heater on at the height of summer with all the windows open.

It’s fine to waste energy every now and again, but when this level of energy draining becomes routine, it depletes energy levels and we can feel physically and mentally fatigued, but that is still only half the story. The effects of that, mean that the active process of healing, which our body is designed to do perfectly well to keep us healthy and vital, becomes totally neglected. Our immune systems get bogged down and we get ill, and begin setting ourselves up for ‘dis-ease’ in the long term.

Meditation gets us into the lower brainwave states of Alpha  and Theta. Alpha brainwaves are slower in frequency and represent a state of relaxed mental awareness or reflection. They are typically associated with contemplation, visualization, problem solving and accessing deeper levels of creativity. The Alpha brainwave state corresponds to frequencies ranging from 8 Hz to 12 Hz.

Theta brainwaves are even slower in frequency and represent a state of deep relaxation, enhanced creativity, stress relief, light sleep and dreaming. Theta brainwave states have been used in meditation for centuries. Research has proven thirty minutes a day of Theta meditation can dramatically improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Theta meditation has also been known to cause the need for less sleep. The Theta brainwave state corresponds to frequencies ranging from 4Hz to 8 Hz.

Reason 5/……It is the gateway to our ‘subconscious programming’ allowing us to make changes that stick!

All of our conditioning, our early programming, our limiting beliefs and our habits live in our subconscious minds. We don’t really have a gateway into our subconscious minds until we get down into a Theta brainwave state. This explains why some of you might have tried ‘positive thinking’ or affirmations whilst wide awake in a Beta wave state – often it doesn’t stick! Without a strategy which opens the gates to the subconscious programming and the home of our ‘life limiting beliefs’ ( Hypnotherapy, EFT /Tapping or Meditation ) we may find our attempts to install any new, positive programming a little futile. The odds are stacked against our efforts if we hold some opposing ‘beliefs’ deep in our ‘subconscious mind’. The subconscious mind is in charge, it is the MUCH larger and more powerful processing system compared to the ‘conscious mind’. The subconscious runs 95-99% of the show, and the conscious is always running about half a second behind, making a best guess as to what is actually going on ( and often making a logical and analytical ‘story’ to make rational sense of what might be going on, which does not reflect the deep, subconscious reality ).

When we adopt a regular Meditation practice, if it includes setting positive ‘intentions or affirmations’, we are doing so whilst in a lower brainwave state, with the subconscious mind as well as the conscious mind. This combined effect, coupled with the regularity of the new ‘idea’ or intention, can become infinitely more likely to manifest in our daily experience.

Mind CALM…..

Mind Calm is the Meditation technique that I practice. I also teach it in Workshops and One to Ones.

I have personally found Mind Calm to be the easiest and most enjoyable technique. This has also been reflected back in client feedback and testimonials ( read these on my website pages listed below ). The easier and more enjoyable the technique, of course the longer we spend doing it to reap the wonderful rewards.

Mind Calm requires…..No jargon, no rituals, no strict rules, no uncomfortable sitting positions AND absolutely NO judgement as to where you’re at. Just a simple, easy to learn and fun way to enjoy more serenity and success in daily life.

Mind Calm Meditation provides practical techniques that allow you to let go of the constant chatter happening in your mind. In doing so, Mind Calm Meditation can help you:

  • Worry less
  • Sleep better
  • Improve your Relationships
  • Live more fully in the Present Moment
  • Reach your Full Potential in your career
  • Sharpen your Focus & Memory
  • Flourish Creatively
  • Feel more CALM
  • Boost inner Confidence
  • Experience deep Contentment & Satisfaction

 

Take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country. One to One bespoke Mind Calm Coaching can also be arranged in London, Cheshire, or via Skype.

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WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/MEDITATION

WWW.LISABARDELCOACHING.CO.UK/WORKSHOPS

 

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Top Tips to Manage ‘Secondhand Stress’

Did you know you other people’s stress is contagious? You may have heard the term ‘secondhand stress’ already….

Secondhand stress is the stress we experience from being around other people who are stressed. Seeing others under stress or in distress triggers our own stress response. Neuroscientists have measured neural activity in the brains of observers. When they observe an emotional response in others, their brains ‘light up’ with a ‘mirroring’ of electrical activity in the same areas of the brain. In fact the neurons involved have been named ‘mirror neurons’ for that very reason!

This mirrored, or secondhand stress can then become a physiological state, in the observer in the same way as it would for the person actually experiencing the emotion for themselves ( albeit less intense ).

top tips

Can we still empathise without taking on others stress?

We can’t control life, so inevitably we will be around other people who are stressed and not coping, In our relationships and jobs, sometimes we don’t have the choice to remove ourselves and it is not appropriate to do so. In these instances there are some useful guidelines as to how to strike a balance

  • Listen and Acknowledge – do this without ‘going into the pit’ with your friend or colleague. When we are stressed, we want to be heard, maybe even want to ‘vent our spleen’. Take a few moments to be present, listen and show that you’re listening without stepping in with opinions, advise or taking sides or reinforcing the emotional content.
  • Remember – Don’t Gossip – don’t get drawn in or ask questions about the details, or who did what etc, even if it is interesting!! – you will be setting yourself up for the continuing saga
  • Keep emotional language to a minimum – instead of getting personally involved, choose something neutral yet engaged like ‘yes, these things can be so frustrating can’t they’ or ‘I can imagine how you feel’
  • With close friends do not be tempted to make strong statements about other parties especially partners of family members. Once the situation is resolved, you may live to regret these comments.
  • Remove yourself from the conversation politely after you have acknowledged and listened. Also remove yourself from the setting as well if you can for a little while, draw the conversation to a close by physically changing your proximity. Close your your body language and move on.
  • We teach people how to treat us – by what we stop, what we allow and what we reinforce. Sometimes we are unconsciously encouraging people to actually seek us out to spill all their emotional frustrations. We can become more conscious and intentional of what we are allowing and reinforcing and in order that we subtly shift the dynamic and send out a different message. It is possible to do this with empathy and good manners too.

How will I know if I’m experiencing secondhand stress?

Stress is stress, it is a physiological state in our brains and bodies, at a cellular level, whether it is secondhand or our own! No matter how you arrived at this state it will feel the same. Here are some common examples:

  • Raised heart rate, palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Churning stomach
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Loss of appetite – or cravings for high calorie food when it returns!
  • Problems getting to sleep or poor quality sleep
  • Fatigue

However, with secondhand stress we can assume that if we are personally not in the stressful situation, the emotional charge and thus the resulting stress will be less.

We might also find that with stress caused by others, we feel like we want to avoid those individuals who are stressing us out, spend less time with them. Maybe we get nervous about being in their company – Do they become the people whose dates we ‘blow out’ even when we are usually pretty reliable?

Why is this term ‘secondhand stress’ becoming so widespread and talked about?

There is a stress epidemic at the moment, people do not have effective stress strategies, and the neurology of stress can become very well established – literally the neural pathways in the brain and body which put us into stress become so well used, that they become etched like a neurological ‘groove’.

We are creating stress with our thoughts as a result of our ‘triggers’ and years of conditioning. Until we learn new strategies en mass, we will all continue to be stressed, and will ‘catch’ the stress of others.

Are there some strategies to help relieve some of the pressure? How and  why would we implement them?

Yes, all of the below strategies are about us becoming more consciously aware and taking personal responsibility to take actions and make changes in our lives.

What we are ‘conscious’ of, we can begin to have some control and influence over….Whereas what we are ‘unconscious’ to can begin to control us.

Top Tips to Manage ‘Secondhand Stress’

  • Surround yourself with positive people – Begin evaluating the experiences you have with people in your life. Simply decide who makes you feel good, supports you and allows you to feel you can express yourself authentically without having to put on an ‘act’. SPEND MORE TIME WITH THEM!!. Conversely, who causes you stress, judges you, constantly talks about themselves and their issues and doesn’t seem that interested in you and your life? Spend less time with them or eliminate them from your life if you can.
  • Remember you often ( aside from work ) have a choice how you spend your time and WHO you spend it with. Choose wisely – energetically we can pick up on negative emotions just by being in the same room as someone, the human electro magnetic energy field is easily as big as the average room. This energy field transmits the emotional and physiological states of other people and can directly affect our own emotions.
  • Notice the language people use – people who are negative, pessimistic, moaning, judgemental and in a passive ‘victim mode’ can drag us down. Some people have coined the phrase ‘energy vampires’ or ‘toxic friends’….it is definitely worth re-evaluating your friendships and networks and making some tweaks where you can.
  • Create some distance – Creating boundaries and physical distance both work. Physically getting out of the energy field means you are not influenced by the negative and emotionally stressed energy of others. Creating new boundaries and teaching people to expect less of you also works well. Always remember: You TEACH people how to treat you…by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce. Think about how you can handle certain people differently.
  • Take less on – We wear stress and being ‘busy’ like a badge of honour nowadays, it has somehow become a benchmark of success…IT IS NOT! Always ask yourself these questions “Is this working for me?”, “What am I getting out of this that is positive?” and “How is this supporting what is important to me?” – This type of question can help you evaluate and choose what you take on and strike a balance between what is genuinely enriching and important, and what you are doing through duty or obligation or out of fear of what other people might think of you.
  • Focus more on yourself – Many years of conditioning, and early programming from when we are children can cause us to struggle to form healthy boundaries with others which serve us as well as them. The result of this for many people is that they put others first ( which of course we all need to do sometimes ) and themselves last. Often this is linked with low self-esteem, not feeling we deserve to put ourselves at the top of the list and a fear of being judged or becoming unpopular. Actually how I often help clients to re-frame this, is that by looking after ourselves, by giving ourselves time to rest, to exercise, to eat healthily and take breaks and time off, we are investing in ourselves, our health and our ability to be emotionally resilient. By nurturing ourselves we can bring the best of ourselves to our lives, jobs and most importantly our relationships with other.

If you would like any professional support in managing stress, take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country:

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WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/STRESS

WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/PERFORMANCE-COACHING

WWW.LISABARDELLCOACHING.CO.UK/WORKSHOPS