Keeping balance in your life

Balance in your life

Life is busy isn’t it? It’s not always easy to keep a good balance in your life.

My summer ihas been full of wonderful opportunities, as well as everyday life, increasing family needs and an unexpected difficult issue that needed my time and focus for a while.

Does any of that resonate with you?!

So it’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper.

I’ve now completed 9 of 11 planned trips away. A mixture of holidays, developmental courses (with Dr Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna and Steve Wells), visiting friends, voluntary work and long dance weekends. I feel blessed.

But I’ve noticed feeling a little underlying tiredness lately.

Good things can be stressful

If you’ve heard my talk ‘Recognising Stress Early’, you will know that even good things can be stressful. In it I advise taking the time to notice how you feel physically and emotionally, and then do something about how you feel if needed.

Seems like it’s time to follow my own advice.

But I’ve noticed when we decide we know the reason for something it can close our minds to other possibilities.

Take time out

And the busier we are, the more likely this to happen. So I didn’t want to just blame it on my busy life, or the heatwave we were experiencing (remember that?), without checking in with myself properly.
So I decided to focus on this tiredness during swap sessions. This is when I get together with a fellow practitioner and we work on our own stuff. I also had a chat with a dietitian

These sessions brought a number of things to the forefront of my attentionMy life has changed a bit in the last 2 years. I’m dancing more – great, I love it!

But, I have hardly any time in the evenings for cooking foods that I would keep in the fridge to snack on. So my diet has suffered a little. And I learned that it is now thought important to eat protein at every meal – at my age!

The summer evenings were also a time when I would garden and do all sorts of jobs. Now these things were getting pushed into the day.

The knock on
effect is that the bigger jobs that need doing, de-cluttering and decorating, have been getting left.

During a swap session, I identified that clutter was impacting me much more than I’d realised. It wasn’t so much being busy that was leaving me feeling tired, as my overwhelm at what I hadn’t been getting done.

Overwhelm can be exhausting

Overwhelm saps your energy and is demotivating. No wonder I was feeling tired.<What can I do about all of this?
Well I love my paper diary, so I plan to use it even more:

1/ To block out time in my diary to make healthy snacks. I also intend to eat before I get ravenous, as feeling extremely hungry often results in poor food choices leading to tiredness. If you like the look of my Raw Brownies why not try them yourself?

2/ To block out 2 days at a time in my diary for those bigger jobs. Even if I can’t get to de-clutter until the Autumn and Winter when we’re not so busy with outside jobs.

I know I can’t do it all overnight.

But if it’s planned, I can relax at the times when I can’t get to it instead of being overwhelmed.

Baring in mind, of course, that life is what happens when we’re making plans! I might need to be flexibly inflexible with my plans.

Life’s all about balance.

But we have to notice when we’re out of balance and take action to move back into balance.

We can’t do everything

We can only make the best choices for us that we can. When something good comes into life that requires time and attention, it can be useful to also focus on what needs to change to accommodate it.

Tapping for Pain

When I first started working with EFT it felt natural for me to focus on stress, anxiety, trauma and phobias. This still remains my main focus.

However there have been times when I’ve been asked to focus on physical pain. As a former Paramedic, who always had prescription drugs on hand to administer for pain, using EFT, or tapping for pain, was an interesting departure. I’m pleased to say I’ve been happy, and sometimes surprised, by the results achieved.

Using EFT or tapping for pain

It just so happens that I’ve had two opportunities recently to use EFT with pain. The first was last month when I was the speaker at a local ladies networking meeting in South Birmingham.

The group had expressed and interest in learning more about EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) – so I had agreed to do a very brief introduction on the topic as well as giving attendees the opportunity to experience it for themselves.

Towards the end of the session I invited those wishing to take part to choose an issue to work on. Nothing major. It could be something emotional or physical in origin. Perhaps something that had irritated them driving to the meeting, an ache or discomfort, or anything that they felt negative about.

As it turned out, everyone came up with a physical pain or discomfort.

Give it a score out of 10

I explained that they didn’t have to tell me exactly what they had chosen to work on. That they should just focus on it for a moment and give it a score out of 10. 10 – the worst it could possibly be. 0 – not an issue at all.

Then I instructed them to forget about and just tap along as I worked specifically with just one member of the group who had volunteered.This person had discomfort in their ankle that was a 5 out of 10.

I asked a couple of questions:
“If this discomfort had a colour, what colour would it be?”
“If there was an emotion behind this discomfort, what emotion would it be?”

Now sometimes they may not have an answer to these questions, but on this occasion I found out that it was an annoying, blue discomfort. That probably all sounds very odd if you’ve not done EFT! But, it’s actually very helpful.

We commenced tapping.

First using a set up phrase where we acknowledged the issue repeating this 3 times. Then we tapped round the points using a reminder phrase (this annoying blue discomfort) to keep us focused. I had only intended to tap round the points twice, but all of a sudden it became ‘very annoying,’ blue discomfort.

A positive sign.

So I continued tapping for two more rounds. This was probably no more that 5 minutes tapping in all, but the discomfort reduced from 5 out of 10 to 2 out of 10.

A great result.

I then asked everyone else to connect back to their own issue and once again score it out of 10.

Others had a similar reduction. Two people said their pain had moved – also a good sign. Another volunteered that they felt more relaxed and others agreed.

Such inspiring results for just 5 minutes tapping!

EFT and stress

The second time I was giving a talk to an NHS Fellowship Group. My talk was Recognising Stress Early & Some Self Help Techniques.

During this talk I mention EFT and give a brief demonstration of how I have used it for myself. But, remembering the results of the week before, and in the knowledge that EFT is often better experienced rather than watched, I asked if they would like to try it for themselves.

This time I didn’t focus on an individual, and didn’t ask anyone what they had decided to tap on. But as before, I told them to give their issue a score out of 10. We then used a general, all encompassing set up phrase that we repeated 3 times.

This was followed by just 3 tapping rounds, where they remained focused on their own issue.

Then I invited them to share their experience if they wished. One person said their pain had reduced from 9 at the start down to 5!

So that’s two more really positive experiences of using EFT for pain. I will certainly be exploring this more in the future.

We don’t always fit the box

“We don’t always fit the box” I heard myself say that recently. There’s many a true word said in a cliché.

It started me thinking. We’re either “thinking inside the box” or “outside the box”. We either “fit the box” or “don’t fit the box”. We may even fit the box because we’re able to think outside the box..!

Do you fit the box?

Working as a Paramedic I would sometimes have patients that we said “fell into a grey area”.  This was just another way of saying they didn’t fit the box. We would know they needed help. But they weren’t ill enough to fit the criteria for treatment. They would have to either get better on their own, or get worse and then get help.

The reality was we just didn’t have a suitable box.

This could be especially difficult for those with mental health problems where the police had also been involved. Some may just have needed to see their own doctor. But it was outside of surgery hours, or there were no available appointments for a few days.

There were also times when people absolutely fitted the criteria for help or treatment. But when it was offered (and strongly professionally advised) they refused.

It is their right to refuse.

People aren’t box-shaped

I’ve come to the conclusion that we have lots of boxes. These are made out of our personal beliefs, opinions, what we have been taught or learned, societies’ rules, our social groups’ rules, our needs and desires.

It’s like another way of looking at our map of the world’.  All of which can change.

Wonderful things can come in boxes. But I don’t think people are box-shaped. Parts of us might fit the box for a time. Sometimes we might try hard to make ourselves fit and get uncomfortably stuck.

I prefer to think of fitting into numerous overlapping moveable boxes. Or, better still, perhaps we could be a completely undetermined, malleable shape, strong, but bending, growing, flexing, shrinking, curving, ever changing…

Look outside the box

I believe it’s totally normal to feel you don’t fit into a box, at least some of the time.

For many years I believed I would be a Paramedic until my retirement age. I fitted the box even though it was sometimes an uncomfortable fit!  But I became traumatised as a result of an emergency I’d attended.

Suddenly I was barely able to face working at all. Nevertheless, I found myself refusing the medication my Doctor offered me. I didn’t believe medication was the answer.

I had no idea what was. My distress was obvious I think, and my manager offered help through the Service’.


There’s always another option

In desperation, I finally approached the person they said worked with emergency services personnel. I had no knowledge, or faith, in the strange techniques she was using and was incredulous that she insisted I took time off work.

But the impact on me, of some of the work she did during our 4 sessions, stunned me.  I had to learn more and do more.

When I did return to work, I found I no longer fitted the box.

It seemed to me that many of my patients, who didn’t need my paramedic skills, could really benefit from the new techniques I had learned. Especially some of those patients that fell into the grey areas.

Parts of what I’d learned did transfer to my paramedic role, but much did not.

So after 31 years it was quite a surprise to find myself deciding that it was time to move on. Now, as The Stress Medic’, I work differently with people but it is just as rewarding as my work as a Paramedic.

Two boxes that overlap..

If you are experiencing a difficult situation, and it seems you aren’t getting the type of help you need, my advice is to look outside of the box.

Be open to different ways you could find support.

My experience of this has been life changing, and is included in some of the group talks I regularly deliver to WI and friendship groups. You can view the full list here.

I wish you luck on your journey.

But they’re only 2 and 4…

A while back I did a session with a busy working mum. She runs her own business and is also responsible for most of the school runs and caring for her two under 5’s during the week.

It’s no surprise that she ends up getting a little frazzled. She told me that negotiating rationally with two small girls was harder than going to work. Well, more tiring at least”.

Stressed and out of control

She was totally fed up with feeling like she was constantly shouty mum”. She felt she resorted to this when she was feeling stressed or overwhelmed. But it just left her feeling even more stressed.

She was desperate to move away from this and be more of the fun mum” her children would enjoy being with. We worked with EFT to help her identify, and release, what it was that made her feel so stressed and out of control.

When I work with clients I often repeat things they say.

It helps them to identify phrases to say when tapping, as well as keeping them focused. But, they’re only 2 and 4” was a standout phrase.  It came about when we were talking about why they were so difficult sometimes. It was a serious comment but, upon hearing me repeating it, she dissolved into fits of hysterics!

She was in fact laughing at herself. And her expectations of her children sometimes. Repeating this phrase in an un-stressful, relaxed environment helped her to focus on reality. In her words small children aren’t always rational, or logical”.

Now, when she feels dreaded shouty mum” will re-emerge, she escapes somewhere quiet for a few minutes and does some tapping. After all they’re only 2 and 4….”

What Emma says:
“I went to see Yvonne as I was tired of being shouty mum”. I had started to find that the daily routine of the school and pre-school runs, running my own business, reception homework (they seem to get a lot even at 4!) etc. was getting on top of me. My girls were 2 and 4 at the time and it seemed like I was always grumpy. They never seemed to do what they were asked and situations escalated into the emergence of the dreaded shouty mum”. I know this is standard with small children but it’s still difficult to deal with effectively.

 After some EFT sessions with Yvonne, where she helped me work through this, I’ve now become more of the fun mum” that I really want to be. I can’t say that shouty doesn’t make an appearance sometimes, but it’s nowhere near as often!”

Helping you manage your fear of public speaking

Meet Emma.

She suffers from something very common – a fear of public speaking.

Before you read her story, which explains how I helped her manage her phobia, I wanted to briefly summarise the techniques we used.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) uses the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian system, as used in acupuncture. Instead of needles we use our fingers to tap on meridian points. It is a wonderful tool for releasing trauma and stress from the body’s energy system, allowing us to recall a traumatic event without feeling all of the emotions associated with it. I use EFT for any negative events, thoughts, feelings or emotions.

With Matrix Reimprinting, which evolved from EFT, we not only free ourselves of the negative emotions of the traumatic memory, but also transform the memory. When we did Matrix reimprinting with Emma’s memory, she was able to release the trauma and gain insights and understandings about the decisions she made at that time.

She then realised that those decisions were not right for her. A traumatic memory was transformed into an empowering memory.

Read her story below.

I first met Yvonne at a business networking meeting. It was about 3 months after I had decided to set up my own business. Yvonne gave us a brief talk about what she did as The Stress Medic and how she ended up taking this path after 30 years in the ambulance service. 

It was all very interesting, but to be honest, I’ve never been one for alternative therapies so I didn’t really know what she was talking about! In the past I’d relied on my GP if I had any medical problems and pretty much took the grin and bear it” approach to anything that played on my mind.

You know; the put up and get on with it kind of thing.

But after talking to Yvonne for a while I ended up being intrigued about how she used her chosen techniques to help phobias and life stresses. I was also very impressed with her talk and wished I was confident enough to do that too.

Living with the fear of public speaking

She explained that she could help me with my public speaking phobia. Obviously I’d heard about how practising makes it easier, that it would get easier each time I did it. I wasn’t convinced.

Instead I decided to have a session with Yvonne to work through this. 

She approached it from a totally different angle which I wasn’t expecting. We spent time identifying where my phobia came from. It was a strange thing to do but very interesting! I pinpointed a time at secondary school when we have to give a talk to the class about a topic that interested us. 

At the time I was experiencing the usual teenage angst. Not fitting in but trying hard to. Wanting to make a good impression and look “cool”. I spent ages trawling through magazines (no internet back then) searching for what I thought my classmates would be interested in.

I came across a charity that rescued performing bears from captivity and chose that. Even though it was a very worthwhile cause I knew nothing about it. So I ended up reading from a piece of paper, really quickly and staring at the floor. 

All the time getting redder in the face. 

That was always something the girls noticed and kindly” commented on. Kids are pretty nasty aren’t they?! Although I’m sure I was just as bad really.

It’s not always about fitting in

Looking back on it with Yvonne I realised why I had chosen that topic. Because I wanted to fit in. Because I didn’t want to be different from them. What actually happened was that I was really nervous and hated doing it. Simply because I had no idea what I was talking about!

Looking back now I realise I should have just been me. I should have talked about my real love at the time; Guns N Roses. Yep, I was a bit of a rocker. But no-one in my class was. Then came the great realisation that it’s not necessary to make everyone to like you. Better still, I realised I don’t actually want everyone to like me. It’s not necessary to be someone you’re not.

After the session I was chosen to talk about my business at the next networking meeting. 

I did it. For a whole 16 minutes. 

Everyone was really receptive and said it was a fantastic talk. Even though I started getting the sick stomach, quick beating pulse feeling I had grown used to, I used the technique Yvonne showed me and I was able to get up and do it. 

Funny how a fear of public speaking actually comes from a deep seated need to be accepted. 

I don’t worry about that now. As I’m sure all small business people know; people buy people. Unless you are yourself they won’t really trust you.